Kansas State Faces Mental Test At WVU

Kansas State is facing the same psychological hurdle that plagued West Virginia going into its game at Texas.

The Wildcats, then ranked seventh, come off a 41-20 loss to No. 5 TCU, which dropped KSU (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) to 13th in the nation and a three-way tie for first place in the conference. With games left at West Virginia and Baylor sandwiched around the home finale versus Kansas, K-State has likely the most difficult remaining stretch of the trio. TCU should be able to coast versus Kansas and Iowa State, with a Nov. 27 date at Texas the prime challenge. Baylor, which owns the head-to-head tiebreak with TCU via its 61-58 win, is in direct control of the league title; win out against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and KSU, and No. 6 BU will receive the top Big 12 bowl slot if it is not – though it will almost certainly be – in the College Football Playoffs.

So there was much lost for Kansas State in the blowout defeat, perhaps the greatest of which is the confidence with which head coach Bill Snyder’s team was playing. KSU’s only previous setback was a six-point defeat to Auburn, and it had begun to surge following the 31-30 win over an Oklahoma team proven to be far inferior to what was assumed by both writers and the league’s coaches in the preseason, when it was picked as the Big 12 favorite coming off the Sugar Bowl beating of Alabama.

Snyder, whose program is playing the typical physical, imposing style with limited mistakes as it always has over both his tenures, now must try and push past the setback, something with which West Virginia proved unsuccessful while losing 33-16 at Texas. The Wildcats, with 12 days between the TCU game and the Thursday night meeting in Morgantown on Nov. 20, might have a more advantageous position because of the open date this weekend.

“I think they’ll respond well, and that’s the key element to how they bounce back,” said Snyder, 185-92-1 in 23 total years as head coach in Manhattan. “I’ve seen a few of the players, and I’ve seen some anger and I can appreciate that a great deal. Then they followed up with disappointment, obviously. I see that and I don’t think anybody has taken it lightly. I think our team is committed to the responsibility and determination and the toughness that it takes to overcome this and move into the next phase of preparation. But we will see. We will discuss some off those things.”

Snyder, who was nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame on Oct. 22, has Kansas State in a position to finish ranked for the 13th time in the last 19 seasons. The Wildcats are ranked 22nd in the NCAA in both points for (36.2) and points against (21.1) while allowing more than 30 points just once this season – the 41-20 defeat against TCU. The Horned Frogs racked up 553 yards of offense and 28 first downs, with quarterback Trevone Boykin completing 23 of 34 passes for 219 yards and a score. Boykin also rushed for a career high 123 yards, and backup running back Aaron Greene added 171 yards on 18 carries – an average of 9.5 yards per rush – as he filled in for injured starter B.J. Catalon, a junior who gashed WVU for 105 yards and two TDs on just 20 carries.

“There are so many things that affected the ball game,” Snyder said. “I think our players, there was just such a mixture of emotions about it in a variety of different ways and feelings. It’s one of those things that you have to get beyond and move into the next phase.”

Snyder said TCU (8-1, 5-1) did a nice job with their offensive line, and also noted how much they improved rushing the football since a 4-8 season a year ago. “They might get hurt on something on some snap, but then they adjust and they don’t allow it to happen again,” Snyder said. “I thought their in-game adjustments, they did quite well.”

Note: Texas head coach Charlie Strong also made a few comments concerning the win over West Virginia, which marked the first time the Longhorns defeated a ranked foe at home since 2008. The win kept UT (5-5, 4-3) in position for bowl eligibility with games against Oklahoma State and TCU remaining.

“Once the game begun, I was very pleased with how we played offensively,” Strong said. “We did a great job of mixing the run and pass. We stumbled a little bit in the second half. Defensively, we played very well. Overall a great team performance and I am very happy.

“There are always mistakes and you try and correct them each week and get better. Sometimes it’s to where you can just get better with technique. I was pleased overall with how well we competed and played and finished the game. You are always looking to duplicate that if you’re a good football team. I was so happy for the players because we had not beaten a ranked team here since 2008, which is amazing for us to be in that position. For that to happen, especially for the seniors, was so much fun.”

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