About the only good thing I can say today is that I didn't wake up with a hangover.
Our worst fears for this season have been realized, K-State fans. All the hope we had in the offseason, and all the discussion of what could happen if everything went right, has gone out the door. Everything has not gone right. Before the season, Curtis Kitchen put together a list of five things that needed to go right for K-State to reach a bowl game. Instead of listing things I liked and things I didn't, I'm going to take a glimpse at those five things an look at what has transpired in the early going.
1. Stay healthy: Negatory. Our best defensive player, Brandon Harold, hasn't played a down yet. It shows, because our defense has only one sack on the season. Frankly, the secondary has played valiantly with zero pass rush in front of them. In addition, it appears that Alex Hrebec is now injured, too, as he did not play last night against UCLA. In a season where we have zero bye weeks, we have no chance to get healthy.
2. Daniel Thomas: He's been a stud. Unfortunately, he's not getting the ball enough. Last night, he had only 20 touches (15 carries, four receptions, one pass). That needs to be more like 25-30. He is the only consistent threat we have on offense, and we need to ride that horse to the bitter end. Maybe he's a marginal passer, but Carson Coffman doesn't appear to be much better.
3. Vic does his thing: The defense is better than last year. No doubt about that. Last season, we probably would have surrendered 450-500 yards to UCLA, especially after some breakdowns early gave the Bruins big gains. But adjustments were made, the team stood up, and UCLA only picked up 359 total yards on the night (and a big chunk came late on that play-action pass for the final score). We're still not back to the Lynch Mob days, but we're significantly better than the last two seasons.
4. Instant impact: We were talking about Emmanuel Lamur here. Mostly, he's been a disappointment in the secondary. His tackling fundamentals are average, and he got burned on the play-action that scored UCLA's final touchdown last night.
5. Get some help: This part focused on the schedule, and it doesn't appear we're going to get the help we'd hoped for. Missouri is much better than expected, while KU has looked solid in wins over cupcakes. Nebraska was one boneheaded play from winning in Blacksburg yesterday. Texas A&M is probably better than last season, and Texas Tech hasn't fallen off much. Even with the loss of Sam Bradford, nobody can score enough points to take advantage of OU. Even Iowa State appears to be a more game opponent than last season, and Colorado picked up its first win of the season yesterday.
Hit the jump for what it means, where we're going, a look at how our opponents are doing, and the Big 12 roundup.
What it means and where we're going...
In the big picture, it means we now know there is absolutely no chance that we're going to a bowl game this year. Assuming we win against Tennessee Tech this week, we would need five conference wins to get to the seven wins required for bowl eligibility. It's safe to say that I don't see that happening. I fully expect this team to improve with time, but it's going to be improving as the competition gets ever tougher.
On the horizon is an interesting two-week stretch for this team. Next week they return home to face a pretty bad Tennessee Tech team, a team they should beat easily. Unfortunately, I'm guessing that morale in the locker room is pretty low, and despite the athletic department's best efforts, I'm also guessing that attendance next week is going to be pretty poor. It wouldn't be surprising to me if the team is flat and just sort of picks up a routine, unimpressive win. The next week opens conference play in Kansas City, Mo., against one of the few conference teams we have any legitimate chance to play with. With no disrespect intended toward Iowa State, if we can't win that one, we won't win another one the rest of the season, unless Colorado or Texas A&M completely tanks.
What our opponents are doing...
Massachusetts picked up an easy conference win, defeating Rhode Island, 30-10. The Rams were only 3-9 a year ago and are 1-1 on this young season. Meanwhile, Louisiana traveled to Death Valley to take on No. 9 LSU, and was tagged with a 31-3 loss. I suppose we could take some positives from the fact that ULL limited LSU to only 330 yards total offense, but that's sort of a slim silver lining.
Next week's opponent, Tennessee Tech, is 1-1 on the season. In the opener, TTU picked up a 51-10 victory over NAIA Pikeville College. This weekend, the Golden Eagles dropped a 17-7 decision to Eastern Kentucky. In the Ohio Valley Conference, EKU is a pretty solid team, having won the conference twice in a row, and TTU played them tough last week. Still, this is not a team that should be able to come to Manhattan and play with K-State, although with our struggles on offense I hesitate to say that about anyone.
Around the Big 12
KU 44, Duke 16
After hearing that Duke had driven 87 yards in two plays for an early 7-0 lead, I wondered what had happened to KU's defense after last week's impressive outing against UTEP. Turns out, they were apparently just a little slow to wake up for the 11 a.m. kickoff. Despite giving up a lot of yards (394), KU would only yield nine more points. It would be a mistake to call KU's offense balanced, as the beaks picked up 338 of their 490 yards through the air, but after two ground-bound games to start the season, the question had been whether KU's aerial attack would get untracked. Question no more, as Todd Reesing was an efficient 28-41 with three TDs and no INTs. Dez Briscoe may not be a classroom star, but he's a stud on the field, hauling in six receptions for 117 yards and a TD.
For more: Rock Chalk Talk
Next opponent: Southern Mississippi (Lawrence, Kan.), 9/26
Missouri 52, Furman 16
As I was unwilling to fork over $30 to watch this massacre, I didn't see even a single highlight from Mizzou's beatdown of the FCS Furman Paladins. The stats show that the Blaine Gabbert everyone fell in love with after week one returned, going 17-25 with three TDs and no INTs. Mizzou led 42-0 at half as this one was never in doubt. Shockingly, Furman won the time-of-possession battle, and picked up 398 yards. I'll have to defer to the RMN crew as to whether this was a result of defensive breakdowns early or junk yards late.
For more: Rock M Nation
Next opponent: Nevada (Reno, Nev.), 9/25
Colorado 24, Wyoming 0
From the box score, it appears this game was nearly unwatchable. Colorado controlled time of possession and easily outyarded the Cowboys, but only picked up 326 yards on the night. Give some credit to the CU defense for shutting out a Wyoming team that had Texas down early last week, but then remember that this is Wyoming, a team with a first-year head coach that is probably going to end up in the MWC basement. For K-State fans, seeing CU win this one has to be a bit disappointing, because the Buffs were looking like about our only good chance at a conference win.
For more: Ralphie Report
Next opponent: West Virginia (Morgantown, W.Va.), 10/1
Oklahoma 45, Tulsa 0
Are Big 12 defenses getting better this year? Tulsa may not be the team it was last year, but they play in the offense-happy Conference USA and failed to score a point against the Sooners. This one was over early, as OU jumped to a 31-0 halftime lead before coasting to an easy win. Landry Jones had a big day, passing for 336 yards and six touchdowns against the Golden Hurricane, but threw two interceptions in the process. While lacking a dominant back -- no Sooner gained more than 73 yards rushing -- Oklahoma picked up nearly 200 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Sooner defense limited Tulsa to only 269 yards on the day.
For more: Crimson and Cream Machine
Next opponent: Miami (Coral Gables, Fla.), 10/3
Virginia Tech 16, Nebraska 15
As Virginia Tech is apt to do, the Hokies slugged it out in a game with Nebraska that did nothing to advance offensively competent football. It looked for all the world as though Nebraska had this game won, stopping VT on downs with less than two minutes left. However, VT had all its timeouts left and Nebraska failed to pick up a first down, forcing the Huskers to punt back to the Hokies. Inexplicably, NU safety Matt O'Hanlon let Danny Coale get behind him and Tyrod Taylor shockingly completed a pass to him down the left sideline for an 80-yard gain to the Nebraska three. Two plays later, Taylor found Dyrell Roberts for the winning touchdown, undoubtedly causing a short-term spike in the Nebraska suicide rate. After two good outings against Sun Belt teams, quarterback Zac Lee was awful against Va. Tech, going 11-30 with no TDs and two INTs. Nebraska's lone bright spot offensively was running back Roy Helu, Jr., who diced the Hokies for 170 rushing yards, a career high. I don't have the stats, but NU DT Ndamukong Suh was practically unblockable, as usual, shutting down the running game and batting down numerous passes.
For more: Corn Nation
Next opponent: Louisiana (Lincoln, Neb.), 9/26
Connecticut 30, Baylor 22
Those hyping the Bears as a bowl team this season took one on the chin as Baylor lost at home to UConn Saturday. For the second time in as many games, quarterback Robert Griffin III had a subpar outing, passing for only 119 yards and rushing for a measly 20. Unlike two weeks ago against Wake Forest, the rest of the team couldn't pick up the slack, as the Bears gained only 266 yards on the day. Meanwhile, Joe Pawelek and the Baylor defense were not up to the task against UConn, giving up 326 yards, including a whopping 235 rushing yards, as UConn running back Andre Dixon scored three touchdowns.
Next opponent: Northwestern State (Waco, Texas), 9/26
Oklahoma State 41, Rice 24
For a second straight week, the Oklahoma State defense looked deficient, giving up 377 yards and 24 points to anemic Rice. It was bad enough that Rice actually outyarded the supposedly high-flying Pokes, as Okie State only gained 351 total yards. The Cowboys led 21-3 at halftime, but couldn't put Rice away in the second half. T. Boone Pickens needs to put out an APB for the OSU running game, as the Pokes only gained 124 yards rushing with Kendall Hunter on the shelf again. Dez Bryant was back to his usual tricks, catching nine passes for 161 yards and two TDs.
Next opponent: Grambling State (Stillwater, Okla.), 9/26
Texas A&M 38, Utah State 30
After steamrolling New Mexico two weeks ago and taking a week off, A&M came out flat and beat Utah State in unconvincing fashion. While the A&M offense was again impressive, tallying 573 yards, the defense was woeful, yielding 521 yards to the other Aggies. Penalties continue to bug A&M, as the Aggies totaled 16 flags for 147 yards yesterday. Quarterback Jerrod Johnson was mostly impressive, going 21-41 for 322 yards and four TDs, and the A&M rushing game picked up 235 yards. Still, the defensive effort had to bring back some painful memories of last year, against a Utah State team that, frankly, is not very good. In its first game, USU lost to in-state rival Utah, the very same Utah team that Oregon dropped yesterday. Apparently, A&M has a knack for finding opponents with a first-year coach, as Gary Anderson is in his first year with the Aggies, a team that went 3-9 last season.
For more: I Am the 12th Man
Next opponent: UAB (College Station, Texas), 9/26
Iowa State 34, Kent State 14
Much rejoicing will be heard in the streets of Ames, Iowa, this week, as the Cyclones no longer hold the nation's longest road losing streak. Quarterback Austen Arnaud bounced back from a putrid game against Iowa last week to pass for 144 yards on 13-21 passing with one touchdown, while the Cyclones rolled up 234 rushing yards. Alexander Robinson accounted for 143 of those yards for ISU. The Clones' defense also limited Kent State to 302 total yards.
For more: Clone Chronicles
Next opponent: Army (Ames, Iowa), 9/26
Texas 34, Texas Tech 24
Texas Tech ended up on the short end of this decision despite outyarding and out-first-downing the Longhorns. Colt McCoy turned in a pedestrian effort against the Red Raiders, passing for only 205 yards and throwing two interceptions. It's looking more and more each week like RMN's Bill C. was right before the season when he predicted that McCoy's outstanding success last season was likely unsustainable. That's not to say Texas isn't a good team, but I don't think anyone really knows how good the Horns are right now. Also of note, the Texas Tech Running Game Watch is now in full gear, as the Red Raiders actually got further from the 100-yard barrier for the season by posting a -6 in the rushing game total. If you're keeping track, Tech is now at 86 net rushing yards through three games. That's Jocques Crawford-level stats right there, which may be college football's Mendoza Line. Taylor Potts looked pretty good, going 46-62 for 420 yards, two TDs and one INT, but he can't do it all on his own. Captain Leach had better find a running game soon.
Next opponents: Texas (UTEP, Austin, Texas, 9/26), Texas Tech (Houston, Houston, Texas, 9/26)