We're only hours away from being fatter and happier than we are at any other time of the year, but there's some work to be done before we get there. B
Before the food coma sets in for days, and, between naps, we take in what will likely be a snoozer of a Sunflower Showdown, we have to take out the garbage from last week's loss to the Oklahoma Sooners.
The score indicated it was the case, but did it ever really feel like K-State was in some sense of control during the OU game?
Jon: Not even remotely. As much as I love watching Jake make like artillery, nobody ever controlled a football game throwing bombs. Every other aspect of the game was a gigantic mess.
Derek: We lost control of this game when Hubert went into the Wildcat. If the defense would've played better, we might have gotten it back. Brennan Clay controlled this game.
TB: Never in control. Close enough to turn the tables with a stop or a(nother) big play, but never in control. After K-State fell behind early, the old adage about K-State not being good at playing from behind seemed appropriate. It surprised me that we even clawed back to even.
Kitchen: No, it did not. That game was one where you just sort of felt like your best wasn't going to be good enough. OU's ground game gashed K-State early and often, and I don't know that there is a more effective way to emasculate a team and/or home crowd than to smash the ball down the field with ease.
Bright(est) spot: Tyler Lockett. We're watching a budding superstar, like, long after his Manhattan days are over ... right?
Jon: I'd like to think so, but we've had other wideouts who were pretty special who never even got a serious look in the league. It doesn't help when you rack up 440 in total offense and even the damn Big 12 blog fails to give you a helmet sticker. National attention for Tyler's day was pretty much limited to Rece Davis saying "wow".
Derek: He might not be getting media attention now, but someone is going to draft him in 2015 and he's going to make them very happy. Tyler Lockett is a fundamentally excellent receiver. He runs crisp routes, has great awareness, and is very elusive. You don't see that very often anymore. Sure he's small and drops a few passes here and there, but I'd be willing to bet he'll shine in the NFL.
TB: He'll get a chance for the reasons Derek mentioned, but I just don't know. He's fast, but he's not Tavon Austin-fast. In the NFL, he'll be another fast guy among many. His disciplined route running will help him stick longer than most "merely fast" guys.
Kitchen: It's possible Lockett's best days are happening in front of us. I can't shake how many times during a game it seems like he hits the ground and seems to come up lame to the point that he has to come out for a few plays. I know he runs deeper routes, and that wears a guy out after awhile, but he also has an injury history that I think may come into play for NFL personnel decision makers, fairly or not.
In one word (then expand, please), this season is best described as ______.
Jon: "A tease". That's two words, but I don't care. This was a team that we didn't expect to contend for anything, and which didn't contend for anything... but could have. And with almost all the key pieces coming back next year, it's easy to see a big run in 2014 if just three little gaps can be patched.
Derek: Auspicious. Assuming they finish with a win next week and a decent bowl, I think they'll be right about at most people's expectations coming in, save for the first game. They hung in every game and had a chance to win them all. Next year might be fun.
TB: Tumultuous. Start with a loss to an FCS team (even if it's the best FCS team). Get two easy non-con wins. Lose three straight close games to start Big 12 play. Win four in a row. Get smacked in the face by Oklahoma.
Kitchen: Forgettable. In 10 years, we probably won't remember much about how a Ryan Mueller led the conference (and nation, briefly) in sacks; a Ty Zimmerman injury kept him off the field in what was shaping up to be another fine season for him; a Tyler Lockett setting receiving records, etc.
Those types of things get swallowed up in the general apathy that washes over a season not good or bad enough to stand out.
If Kansas State and the Jayhawks played 10 times this year -- and we'll even say five times each at both venues -- what would the split be? How about the average margin?
Jon: 8-2, 40 points. Yeah, I do think this team operating under this year's philosophy would somehow manage to lose twice to the Beakers. It ain't cool, but that's where we are.
Derek: I don't think this K-State team could beat this KU team 10 times, but I'm gonna go 9-1, 30 points. Lawrence isn't an intimidating venue and the Cyclones really exposed KU, not that they needed a lot of exposure. Some of them might be West Virginia ugly but I can't see two losses.
TB: 9-1. Average scoring margin: 42-14.
Kitchen: 10-0. Bill Snyder does not lose to the current edition of his in-state rival. He might toy with the kill a little before devouring it, but unless he sets up a drill where his team has to start from its own 1-yard line every time — or call nothing but Jake Waters zone reads — he's not going to lose to Charlie Weis' Jayhawks. Average score with Zimmerman: 41-13. Average without Zimmerman: 37-23.
Seriously, though, any concerns with the upcoming installment of the Sunflower Showdown?
Jon: Any concerns I had were pretty much handled by the Cyclones. Yes, this edition of the Zimmerman-less Wildcats can be run on... as long as there's a passing threat. I remain convinced that Knight's success throwing early set up the entire fiasco last week, personnel aside. KU can run the ball, but they're just not a credible threat in the air.
Derek: As long as John Hubert and Daniel Sams can get going, I don't think it will be an issue. I'd like to see a shut out, but this defense doesn't seem too capable of that.
TB: I wouldn't have thought Iowa State capable of shutting anyone out either, but they did. In any event, this won't be a shutout. Weis will pull out all the stops, like last year in the first quarter. If that happens and K-State turns the ball over, this game can be lost. But I still think that's exceedingly unlikely.
Kitchen: Had we discussed this question a week ago, I would have said it appeared KU was doing a good job of keeping the internal fire burning as the effort and focus looked pretty reasonable for a team that wasn't winning prior to the WVU win. But then, KU proved it treated its first Big 12 victory since 2010 like a BCS Championship. The team showed zilch, literally, against a bad Iowa St. bunch.
Maybe KU pulls it back together, but empty seats and K-State fans combined will outnumber KU fans this Saturday probably 2 or 3:1, and KU players know they get a long break after this one is over. Their minds will be elsewhere by the second half.