Kansas State had nothing Saturday night. Not a defense, not an offense, not a coaching staff that was capable of stemming a tide of Baylor offense that completely overwhelmed the Wildcats in a 52-24 Bears win.
Bill Snyder, the coach with all the answers, drew a series of blanks.
Collin Klein, the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, had his worst game as K-State’s quarterback.
Not one Kansas State defensive player stepped up.
Baylor took it to the Wildcats from the opening kickoff. Had it not been for a couple of terrible interceptions thrown by Baylor quarterback Nick Florence, the score would have been more one-sided.
It was the Bears’ unsung rushing game and previously non-existent pass rush that made the difference.
Sophomore Lache Seastrunk and junior Glasco Martin combined for 298 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Florence added 47 yards and a rushing TD of his own. Whenever the Bears needed yards, it was the running game that usually provided them.
Kansas State looked gassed, perhaps from the mental drain of a perfect season or from immediately getting banged over the head by a Baylor team that looked confident and equipped to pull off a shocking upset from the get-go.
Kansas State had avoided a letdown in previous games, but it’s so hard to play A or even B games every week. But nobody saw an F game coming, and that’s what the Wildcats had against Baylor, statistically the worst defensive team in the country.
Give former Kansas State defensive coordinator Phil Bennett a lot of credit for taking his former team out of the national-championship picture. Bennett, now Baylor’s D-coordinator, through everything at Klein and a lot of it worked. The Bears’ pass rush was intense and successful and it helped force Klein into three interceptions.
I would have loved to see Snyder get to a national championship game. He came close in 1998, only to watch his K-State team fumble away an opportunity to beat Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship game in St. Louis.
Snyder is one of the greatest college football coaches in history. Saturday’s loss doesn’t change that.
But the loss did dramatically change the dynamics of a season that looked like it would finally give Snyder the grand stage he so deserves.
The shock of Saturday night’s loss will stay fresh for a long time.
Some national “experts” will claim that Kansas State was finally exposed. Others will point out that the Sports Illustrated Curse got to the Wildcats. That’s complete hogwash, of course. At least I think it is. Right? It is?
Whatever the reason, Kansas State looked like a different team against Baylor. Klein looked like a different quarterback. Arthur Brown looked like a different linebacker.
And Snyder looked like a different coach.
That’s what a 52-24 beat-down does to a team on the wrong end of the score. It’s the way Kansas State has left many of its opponents this season.
But every week of the college football season is full of mystery and intrigue. Good teams lose and struggling teams win.
It points out once again just how difficult it is to go 12-0. Only Notre Dame and Ohio State are still perfect. And the Buckeyes aren’t eligible for postseason play.
If Kansas State beats Texas on Dec. 1 in Manhattan, the Wildcats will probably still play in a BCS bowl. But it’ll going to feel like a consolation prize because of one inexplicable night in Waco.