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Round Table: Paradise unlost?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

How about now? Does this team have an identity?

Jon: It's an old-school Bill Snyder football team. Just not a particularly incredible one.

TB: It's getting there. It has an offensive line that can take advantage of weak defensive fronts to get Daniel Sams and John Hubert going on the ground. It has two wide receivers who create matchup problems for most secondaries. It just doesn't do any one thing consistently, overpoweringly well.

Derek: Sort of. Solid defense, servicable offense. The old Snyder staples --consistency and discipline -- are starting to show. But as for a specific "describe this team in one word" situation, maybe Morse can think of one, but I sure can't.

Kitchen: By this point in a season, every team has an identity. Sometimes, "mess" is the identity. Sometimes, it's easy to like and be attracted to a team's persona; other times, it isn't. I think KSU's early, disjointed feel hinged on unlikable, but has slowly grown on people as it morphed into something that better reflects the general idea of "K-State football."  Because of that, people now are more apt to say "yes" if asked if this team has one.

Back on Sept. 16, we all guffawed when Kip Daily was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week — saying that would likely be the last time we would see a Wildcat win the award this season. But then, Ryan Mueller happened this past week. So, in keeping with the improved defense theme, how about now? Was this the last, last time we'll see it this year?

Jon: I'll say "no". I think at this point the defense has its legs under it, and at some point now we're going to see a big game out of someone in the secondary.

TB: Piggybacking off Morse's comment, that's almost certainly Ty Zimmerman. This weekend against Tech is his big shot, as he'll likely be tasked with keeping Jace Amaro in check.

Derek: On September 16, no one knew that by November the defense would be the best thing about this team. Tom Hayes is a hero and I'm not going to doubt him or any of these players. Plus, there's still that televised scrimmage at the end of the month. I think the players are still eligible for awards in that game.

Kitchen: If I'm a gambling man, and I'm not above such things, I think K-State gets one more somewhere over the next month. It's hard to win such things early in a season because everybody is still technically part of "big" games. As the schedule plays out, teams drop off the map — and some good player performances because of that. KSU still has some high-profile match-ups left, and a good day at the office could easily lead to more hardware.

After watching whatever that was dressed up in Iowa St. Cyclones uniforms, we like to doom-and-gloom things around here on occasion, but do you have a better, or recalibrated, perhaps, perspective of what despair actually looks like?

Jon: Bill Snyder wasn't hired until I left Manhattan, so I think we all know MY answer to this question.

TB: I spent most of the weekend among Iowa State fans and yeah, despair is not a pretty thing. That team has given up. I will be surprised if they beat KU.

Derek: Paul Rhoads probably isn't so proud of his team right now. If you go back and listen to Ahearn and I's podcast with KnowDan, you can almost hear it in his voice. It's tough. Stay strong Farmalliance siblings.

Kitchen: I don't know why I feel like saying this, but I do. I'm sorry, Iowa St. I'm sorry that your program, while it wasn't *that* high to start with, is in a state of flAmes. (bwahaha ... couldn't help myself.)

So, let's go ahead and dive into the deep end: K-State likely makes a bowl game. Who should the Wildcats play in order to finally get Bill Snyder another bowl win?

Jon: I mean, we can't go wrong with a Big Ten team, right? Looking at the consensus of the various bowl projections, we're looking at Minnesota or Iowa in the Texas Bowl. Those are both winnable.

TB: Or Nebraska. I'd take matchups with any of the three. Ground-based teams who can't beat K-State over the top off play-action? That's our best bet.

Derek: Beating Nebraska in a bowl game would be a proper bookend to a season that began with a loss to Craig Bohl. And if the loss was the final straw that ended Bo Pelini's career, I think ol' Bill should run up the score on the lackshirts for old time's sake.

Kitchen: Nebraska is a fine answer. A damn fine one.