Through discipline and hard work, K-State led a charmed life for eight weeks. The Wildcats won their first seven games of the season, and defeated teams such as Miami, Baylor, Missouri and Texas Tech along the way.
All along, however, K-State couldn't shake the criticism that it wasn't a particularly talented team and would probably be in for a rough outing against the elite teams of the Big 12. Through the first half Saturday against Oklahoma, it looked like K-State would shake that perception. The Cats roared back from an early 14-0 deficit to take a 17-14 lead and may have taken a lead into the locker room if not for a bad play call on third and three and a fumble with 19 second left in the half.
It probably wouldn't have mattered, as Oklahoma was unstoppable in the second half, but the way K-State fell apart has led to concerns about how K-State will regroup for the stretch run. That stretch run begins Saturday in Stillwater against No. 3 and high-flying Oklahoma State.
It would be too much to expect this team to go to Stillwater and get a win. Oklahoma State is a legitimate national title contender with a lethal, balanced offense and an opportunistic defense. Bill Snyder's task this weekend is more about getting his team back on track in terms of executing assignments, sticking to the gameplan and maintaining focus even if the Pokes do take a big lead than getting out of the former Indian Territory with a win. After Oklahoma State, K-State has winnable games against Texas A&M, at Texas and against Iowa State to close out the season.
If K-State can endure the Poke Nightmare on Saturday, it could very well pick up solid wins against Texas A&M and Texas and finish 10-2. That type of record would legitimize K-State as more than just a nice bunch of overachievers. A 10-2 finish would almost certainly lead to a Cotton Bowl berth and a top 10 or 15 finish. For a team picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 and whose fans were just hoping for a bowl berth, that would be a smashing success.
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