Round Table: K-State's lost season?

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

After another bye week, the Round Table resumes and wonders if this feels like a lost season for Kansas St. in some regard, whether anyone can catch Baylor, and what to expect from West Virginia. Also, TB invokes the Fifth Amendment, and Kitchen reveals his wish for a video of a Bill Snyder pool-party cannonball.

Shall we ... ?

There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns in last week's Big 12 action. Did the somewhat surprising results (Oklahoma and Oklahoma State struggling, Texas Tech surviving, etc.) make it feel a little more like this season might wind up being a wasted opportunity in some sense for K-State?

Jon: Yeah, quite a bit, although it's still entirely possible the Cats can claw their way to San Diego -- which, ironically, would be an improvement over pre-season expectations.

The Intern: Not really, since I started playing (crunching numbers) with the predicted winning percentage and pass/rush yards for O and D, it has helped me to see differences I was overlooking.  We should start doing better now that we are at the tail end of the season, but our first three weeks of conference play wasn't easy.

TB: It does. Texas was walking dead when we played them. Same for Oklahoma State. An organized, disciplined effort against either team probably results in a win. If we would've continued pressing our advantages -- Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson against NDSU's defensive backs -- in the opener, we probably win that one, too. There's good reason K-State is 2-4 right now. But there's good reason to believe that certain things, which look like they're being fixed right now, very well could have led to wins in at least two of those games.

I can't complain about the Baylor game, because it would have taken a very nearly perfect effort to win, and we came closer to pulling it off than anyone could have expected.

Derek: The struggles of the conference actually make me feel better in that our incompetence is just mixed in with the rest rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. I guess it might be looked at as a missed opportunity but I just hope that we can salvage some sort of bowl appearance and move on. I'm not going to concern myself with what might have been.

Kitchen: Ever since the cover was prematurely pulled off Bill Snyder's statue prior to the NDSU letdown, this season has just felt off. Too many things going on, too many different indecisive directions, too many questions ... it feels like this season has been about anything and everything except solid football.

The terrible start to conference play has a little to do with the opponents, but I agree with TB, a "regular" K-State effort results in at least one or probably two wins in that stretch knowing what we do about those other squads. So, while it's easy to see this team has too many ills to really compete against 2013 Baylor, yeah, it's disappointing that a lot of things have to go right to finish in the top half of the conference when second was probably available.

A couple of stabs have been taken at trying to compare this season with 2004. Is that a good comparison?

Jon: I'm sorry, I don't recall that season. Can you tell me when that was? Seriously, and I may just be wishcasting, but this feels more like 2001 to me.

The Intern: People see patterns where none exist.

TB: It depends. If the improvement we've seen the last couple weeks is real and sustainable, and the Wildcats go 5-1 to close the season, then obviously no. But if K-State continues to flounder and finishes below .500, then yeah. The comparisons will be uncomfortably close.

Derek: As we've discussed before, the comparisons are surely there, but prior to the Baylor loss this season could have been compared to 2003. Even Snyder mentioned it. The next three or four games will tell the story.

Kitchen: I hate comparisons like this, especially on the college level when turnover is high and regular. Some of the youngest kids on this team weren't even 10 yet. It's a talking point for some, sure, but to believe a past season, if scoured enough, holds some mysterious and magical key on how to turn around another group almost a decade later is foolhardy. The records may wind up close to the same, but, for me, that's where it ends.

What concerns you most about West Virginia, based on what you've seen from the Mountaineers thus far?

Jon: They can still beat the Cats deep if they're not careful. I'm not that worried, though, because I'm pretty sure the offense can score on them.

The Intern: I have a friend in Manhattan that lives close to the stadium and I think he has a couch on the front porch.

TB: Maybe it was just Oklahoma State's putrid offensive line, but their defensive line dominated against the Cowboys. Of course, then Baylor gashed the 'Eers for 476 on the ground, so maybe that was a mirage. I don't know. There's every reason to believe we should win. Vegas believes in us. I think the F+ picks will believe in us when they come out. But until we shake off the funk we've been in this season, I'll still be skeptical.

Derek: From what I've seen of them so far, it looks like they're just as unpredictable as we are. I have no idea what we'll see on Saturday, but I'll be nervous until the final gun sounds, unless by some miracle we pull comfortably ahead.

Kitchen: I'm just hoping Intern's friend's couch makes it out of Saturday alive and that final gun Derek referenced isn't shot off by the WVU cheerleaders. Past that, Dana Holgorsen said Clint Trickett is his guy from here until further notice. Erm ... if KSU can't beat a guy named Trickett, I hate to realize I'm already ready to shrug my shoulders and chalk it up as another part to a forgetful season. (Oh, and blame it on Jake Waters, of course.)

Is it pretty clear that it is Baylor and everybody else at this point? If so, where do you see K-State finishing in the conference standings by year's end?

Jon: I think so, yes. Based on what we've seen so far, it is entirely plausible that K-State may have given Baylor the best game they're going to get before January. Unfortunately, already being three games in the hole here, I don't see the Cats getting any higher than a tie for fourth at best.

The Intern: It is Baylor, Texas and Tech at this point based on my number crunching.  Until Texas 'Mack Browns' a game, have to count them in the mix.  All three have to face some good games for the remainder of the season, so we shall see.  At the moment the numbers I'm crunching are saying from 5th to 8th in the conference.  I think we might actually end up 4th if we play like we did against Baylor for the rest of the year.

TB: I'm not leaving Texas for dead just yet, though I'd be more inclined to believe if David Ash could get back on the field. Their defense isn't elite or anything, but it's been a lot better under Greg Robinson. Texas has the defensive athletes to at least try to match up with Baylor, and they have a DC who will do what K-State did, and take away the run.

Derek: I'm skeptical of Baylor on the road. After our game, I thought for sure Iowa State would match up with them better than they did but it seems that the Bears are a whole different team on the road. I still think it's theirs to lose since they've clearly been more impressive than Tech or Texas, but I'm not ready to hand out any trophies yet. As far as K-State goes, I'm hopeful that we can win these next few games and pull ourselves up to fourth or fifth. I think it's possible.

Kitchen: Baylor pushed its way to the top of my power rankings a few weeks ago, and I don't see that changing. I think Oklahoma was the only team top-to-bottom talented enough to hang, but injuries on defense have killed that group (see Kansas). Texas is alive, and Greg Robinson miraculously is thriving as the defensive coordinator, but pardon me if I reserve judgment until I see the Longhorns get hit in the mouth because rejuvenated paper confidence is tricky.

I like me some Texas Tech, but I think that group is a year away from turning into a major force as opposed to a decently dangerous one.

As for K-State, this team is so unpredictable for so many reasons. I think 4-2 down the stretch is certainly attainable, but that means taking care of business this weekend. For me, a WVU loss would have KSU staring down the barrel of a four-win campaign.

The NCAA finally got around to handing Miami some sanctions. It's largely a non-story, including Frank Haith having to miss five terrible non-conference games, but it got us to thinking: What specific rule would you most like to see Bill Snyder and/or Bruce Weber break if it meant increased success?

Jon: None. Seriously, none. Then again, I remember the bad old days when we were just as filthy as A&M and Auburn only we didn't have anything at all to show for it, so I'm a little biased.

The Intern: The only one press conference a week rule.  It would be nice to have more information during the week instead of rehashing of the earlier in the week during the rest of the week.  I also think they both should use the express lane with 15 200 items and see if anyone says anything.

TB: I'm invoking my Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, on advice of myself.

Derek: I was the sports editor of the Barton Community College newspaper when their whole athletic department became embroiled in a mess of scandals, so I can say from first hand experience that there is no joy in it. Nothing feels genuine. There is about as much pride in a championship won through scandal as one would get buying a trophy from a store. I don't wish it on anyone.

Kitchen: For just increased success? None. For a BCS title or NCAA Tournament championship? My hope would be that K-State's excellent positioning within various NCAA committees and boards would mean the Wildcats could spend the cash necessary to land elite game-changers and then get Cam Newton treatment, where the focus is on a specific player, who is able to shrug it off without much effort.

If I can't have any of that, then just, one time, please, football gods, let there be video of a Bill Snyder-led pool party at his house with recruits. Bill's a swimmer, totally can picture it — with him getting things going with a cannonball off the board.

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