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Fight you K-State Wildcats

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Kansas State teams showed plenty of fight this weekend.

K-State huddle at Cal

Volleyball

As Kansas State fans, we are all aware—to a sometimes painful degree—that our sports teams are unlikely to win the shiny, brass ring. Even so, from one week to the next, and year after year, we persist. We scream ourselves hoarse in the stands, we yell at our televisions, we bleed purple.

Why? Logic would suggest that frequently supporting a team unlikely to win the ultimate prize is both irrational and counter-productive. There’s a famous quote defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Why do we continue to be irrational, even slightly insane, about Kansas State sports?

The answer is simple. We strive because they strive.

There is not a single Kansas State fan who does not prize that moment when a team shows true grit, when the Wildcats claw and scrape for every point, every inch of the field, every bucket.

You remember exactly where you were when Kansas State fought through two overtimes to make the Elite Eight at the NCAA Tournament. You remember just what you were doing during that 4OT game against Texas A&M in 2011. You remember sharing the unfettered joy of the women’s basketball team when they edged Western Kentucky in overtime to make the WNIT finals in 2006.

To those memories, you can now add the second round of the 2016 NCAA Volleyball Tournament. There are few things in sports better than a close contest, and there is almost nothing that can match the intensity of a fifth set, a match that comes right down to the wire. The VolleyCats lost to Ohio State yesterday, but only by the narrowest of margins. We’ll soon forget that they lost, but we’ll always remember how they fought. Down by two sets, they stormed back into the match to force a deciding set that went right down to the wire. These Wildcats showed such strength, determination, and spirit, and they’re rewarded with an eternal place in our hearts.

Fight you K-State Wildcats, and we will fight with you. Jon Morse speaks for all of us: Thank you, Volleycats.

Football

The run up to the 2016 season was not kind to Kansas State. Most prognosticators picked the Wildcats to finish near the bottom of the Big 12 standings. Early returns in 2016 were pretty much in line with those expectations. At 3-3 and staring down the barrel of a losing season, it looked like Kansas State was done.

Then again, this is Kansas State we’re talking about. Playing down to expectations is not #EMAW. So the Wildcats strived; they inched, clawed, and grasped at every last blade of (fake) grass on the field. In short, they fought until they figured things out on offense and defense. They made it a scary season, but also a fun one, as our own Derek Smith eloquently suggests.

The Wildcats beat TCU 30-6 yesterday in Fort Worth, in a game where the scoreline barely reflects Kansas State’s absolute dominance on the ground. TCU players and fans now know what a stampede feels like. It was a decimation, and one that erased any lingering doubts about these Wildcats, as Greg Woods writes in our game recap: K-State 30, TCU 6.

Jesse Ertz only completed nine passes on a wet and muddy day, but he ran 19 times for 170 yards, including a terrific drive-saving scamper that doesn’t really show up on the stats sheet. Justin Silmon, in for the injured Alex Barnes, had himself a day. He carried the rock 22 times for 133 yards and two scores. Not to be outdone by his teammates, Byron Pringle had six receptions for 126 yards including a spectacular 83-yard catch-and-run that should feature heavily in Kansas State highlight reels from here on out.

All in all, the Wildcats amassed nearly 500 yards of offense (336 yards on the ground) and held the ball for nearly 35 minutes, and that was against the second-best defense in the Big 12.

The defense deserves special kudos here. Kansas State held TCU to just six points total, and the Horned Frogs went 7-of-20 on third down conversions. Neither Foster Sawyer nor Kenny Hill made much of a dent against the Big 12’s stoutest defensive line. As Gary Patterson noted after the game, “[w]e played the best defense in the Big 12. They treated us like they were the best defense in the league.”

This was a defining win for the 2016 Wildcats, the culmination of the fight they’ve shown in the last few weeks. They’re finally succeeding on offense even when the opposing defense knows just what’s coming. Ertz put it best after the game:

We just did what we do. I don’t think there’s any secret or anything new we threw at them.

More importantly, Kansas State is rounding into peak form at just the right time. A bowl win now would mean the team’s first nine-win season since 2012. It doesn’t matter how you start, if you finish strong. Even Bill Snyder agrees:

I would suggest we were probably one of the two-best teams in the conference, in regards to how we finished, and maybe one of the top teams in the country.

Stay tuned. This could be a fun ride!

Basketball

In their first true road game of the season, the men’s basketball team didn’t have to fight that hard. Kansas State simply overwhelmed St. Louis University, winning the game 84-53.

It was a homecoming celebration for D.J. Johnson and Xavier Sneed, who both made big contributions to the win. Sneed came off the bench to score 15 points, including four treys. Johnson complained afterwards that he missed a rebound, but he had a terrific day. He was nearly perfect, scoring 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting and 10 rebounds. Dean Wade added 13 points and Wes Iwundu had 9 points to go with 5 rebounds.

The Wildcats dominated the Billikens in nearly every aspect of the game, prompting Bruce Weber to describe the night as “fun” and to compliment his players on their focus.

Next up, the Wildcats will host Prairie View A&M at Bramlage Coliseum on December 6. Tip off is scheduled for 7 PM.

Miscellany

Speaking of Wildcats and fight, Terence Newman, 38, is practically a senior citizen in NFL terms. But as noted by Ben Shpigel in this piece for the New York Times, he’s figured out how to outsmart his opponents through an attention to detail and extreme discipline.