The day after

Don't look now, but the Wildcats (2-3 overall, 0-2 in conference play) are reeling after Saturday's humbling 31-28 defeat at the hands of in-state rival Kansas.

The day after

Wildcats don't have time to lick wounds

By Herbie Teope

Don't look now, but the Wildcats (2-3 overall, 0-2 in conference play) are reeling after Saturday's humbling 31-28 defeat at the hands of in-state rival Kansas (3-3, 1-2).

The Kansas State defense was solid in the first half and paced the Wildcats to a 7-6 halftime deficit. However, they were once again exposed in the second half as they gave up two big scoring plays to Kansas sophomore running back John Randle.

The first big play resulted in a third quarter 24-yard touchdown reception. The second was a fourth quarter tackle-breaking 43-yard touchdown run, which put the Jayhawks ahead 31-21 with 3:16 remaining in the game. Randle finished with 105 yards rushing.

Meanwhile, senior running back Darren Sproles was limited to 73 yards on 24 carries. Sproles also lost another fumble Saturday night giving him a total of five lost fumbles in the last three games.

Sophomore quarterback Dylan Meier, who did not start the game, did everything in his power to lead a frantic fourth quarter comeback with the team down 31-21. Unfortunately, like his heroic efforts during the team's Oct. 2 loss to Texas A&M, it was in vain. Meier finished the game completing 15-of-24 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, all in the second half. He added a rushing touchdown.

Individual heroics are one thing, but the Wildcats are in trouble. On the heels of this current two-game losing streak comes Big 12 powerhouse and the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0).

Kansas State may have been caught red handed looking ahead to their Oct. 16 showdown with the Sooners. Leaving Lawrence with a win over the Jayhawks would have given the Wildcats much needed momentum, but the loss leaves them scrambling.

The once dependable Kansas State running game has been shutdown in consecutive games. Since rushing for a career-high 292 yards on 38 carries against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sep. 18, Sproles has gained 134 yards on 44 carries in two games, a 3.0 average.

Sproles will be needed Oct. 16, but he faces an Oklahoma defense that held Texas running back Cedric Benson to 92 yards on 23 carries. Benson entered Saturday's contest leading the nation with a healthy 186.5 yards per game.

Despite the best efforts of head coach Bill Snyder and defensive coordinator Bob Elliott, the mental mistakes and missed tackles on defense that have plagued the Wildcats since the season began simply won't go away.

The Kansas State defense has given up numerous big plays this season, and now has to deal with Oklahoma freshman running back Adrian Peterson, who is averaging over 150 rushing yards per game. All Peterson did Saturday was lead the Sooners to a 12-0 victory after shredding a solid Texas defense for 225 yards.

Oklahoma quarterback Jason White, last year's Heisman Trophy recipient, is more than capable of dissecting the Kansas State secondary. White may not be called upon when the two teams meet in Manhattan with Peterson potentially running wild.

Kansas State is still seeking an identity on both sides of the football. However, entering the heart of the conference schedule isn't the time to find one.

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