Kansas State seems to be eliciting a lot of different opinions this preseason, from a #6 national ranking from The Sporting News to the now infamous #6 in the Big 12 ranking from the league's media. Last Friday, I took a fun look at what a Wildcat dream season might look like. Today will be less fun.
It's time to take a look at the nightmare scenario, though once again I must stress that we will not talk about injuries. Not even a little. In this season, Collin Klein's elbow doesn't even get bloody, and Tyler Lockett stays healthy as a sophomore but goes more Aaron senior year than Kevin (fun fact: he had an INT that season. Does anyone remember how this happened?).
Needless to say, I sincerely hope that none of this happens and have tried to take all necessary precautions (sprinkling pixie dust on my keyboard, thinking happy thoughts, etc.) to ensure none of this actually happens. I would note, however, that as a lifelong Chiefs, Royals and Cubs fan, I feel I am uniquely qualified to imagine worst-case scenarios.
We start with Missouri State, and it's just hard to imagine the ‘Cats not coming out more ready to play than they did in the debacle last season. Plus, Missouri State isn't as good as Eastern Kentucky, so K-State wins this by 30.
The next week gets a lot tougher as Miami comes to town, and K-State will find a Hurricanes team that is very hungry to make up for last year's goalline failure that lost them the game in
Coral Gables Miami Gardens. They might even have some early momentum from a week one game at Boston College, which could be just barely enough to narrowly knock off a lethargic Kansas State team at home as Snyder waits too long to expand his offensive playbook beyond ‘let Klein run', ‘throw short,' or ‘hand to Hubert.'
Even on its best day, North Texas is not going to touch the ‘Cats at home, especially if it comes after a loss. The following week will be a very different story.
When everything is clicking for OU and its ridiculously talented team, it doesn't much matter how well Collin Klein is throwing and Arthur Brown is running all over the field. Their highlight-reel moments only make it worse when Landry Jones has a field day against the K-State secondary, and this time OU pulls away early in the second half. Boomer Sooner is played approximately 435 times as OU wins by 50.
The next week, Charlie Weis ruins tailgating by eating all of the food in the parking lot before the game begins. Then Kansas scores first and holds a lead until halftime, at which point Bill Snyder is forced to summon some of mystical powers he would have rather used later in the season to draw up several plays for Klein to lead K-State to a two-touchdown victory that feels about as good as Team USA's win over Linas Kleiza-led Lithuania.
Iowa State is ready to cement its claim as the Big 12 sleeper team of 2012, and after a shocking win at TCU the Cyclones come out motivated in front of an electric crowd at Jack Trice Stadium. Two early interceptions from Klein proves too much to overcome as ISU hangs on to win by a touchdown on the same day a survey is released that says Iowa corn is better than Kansas corn.
West Virginia's offense turns out to be as good as advertised, and a beleaguered K-State defense can't contain Geno Smith and his talented receivers. It's a good thing the Mountaineers still don't have a defense, but the ‘Cats are playing from behind all day and end up trying to hurry a little too much in the fourth quarter of a 42-35 loss.
Texas Tech has such a terrible season that Tommy Tuberville decides to completely overhaul the offense to make the Red Raiders look like a Leach Era team. The unexpected stunt catches K-State off guard early and a year-long theme of dropped passes continues to haunt Wildcat receivers, but in the end Collin Klein is just too much of a badass to let his team lose this game.
OSU freshman Wes Lunt may be a decade younger than Brandon Weeden, but this late in the season he'll have had some time to get things figured out. K-State's secondary is missing David Garrett and Tysyn Hartman a lot more than expected, and Mike Gundy has his team ready to take advantage.
Meanwhile, Joseph Randle makes every Wichitan in attendance cry with a huge day, and Oklahoma State takes a big early lead. Some brilliant second half throws by Klein put K-State in a position to come back, but Snyder inexplicably decides a crucial situation in the fourth quarter is the time to go back to his quarterback running the ball. It fails, and K-State falls to 4-5.
TCU hasn't had the best debut Big 12 season, but it only gives the Horned Frogs more motivation to beat its purple brethren. Casey Pachall and his deep stable of backs put TCU ahead early, and KSU is once again reminded it can't use its late-game prowess if the game isn't close late.
The RGIII-less Baylor Bears see an opportunity against the struggling Wildcats, but even in a nightmare HCBS and HBCK aren't going to allow this to happen. The Bears employ a mostly successful strategy of putting 9 to 10 in the box, but Arthur Brown's defense keeps the ‘Cats close before Lockett finally breaks away for a long TD late to seal a far-too-close victory.
Despite all the disappointments, Bill Snyder Stadium is still rocking when Texas comes to town with a bowl bid on the line. UT's outstanding defense gets a pick-six on K-State's first possession, and though their QBs throw plenty of balls into the ground, the Longhorns eventually hang on to win one of the ugliest games fans have seen since the ‘Cats beat KU 12-3 in 2005.
The streak is over, and Barking Carnival hosts a postgame party that includes a purple wizard's hat being thrown onto the bonfire. K-State finishes a horrifying seventh in the conference, leading Bob Lutz to suggest that it's time for Bill Snyder to step down and let his son take over. No one takes the column seriously, but Pan suffers a very mild heart attack.
Collin Klein's numbers still clearly show him as one of the league's top three QBs, but somehow he gets no recognition in the postseason honors, presumably because he can't throw the ball well enough. I was going to end this post with someone declaring early for the NFL draft, but I don't really see any realistic possibilities. Ty Zimmerman? Tramaine Thompson? Nope.