Texas-Kansas St. Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 27, 2012
It probably wasn't the most happy of Thanksgivings for seventh-ranked Kansas State. The Wildcats had climbed ever so slowly to No. 1 in the BCS standings before losing two weeks ago at Baylor, ending their perfect season along with their national championship dreams. And due to a quirk in the schedule, they had last week off, giving them some extra time to stew over what will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest disappointments in school history. It also gave Kansas State time to prepare for its final exam, though. The Wildcats return to the field for their home finale Saturday against No. 23 Texas. They can wrap up the Big 12 title and earn the league's automatic BCS bowl berth with a win, or if No. 12 Oklahoma loses to TCU earlier in the day. "We definitely need to get back on track. There's definitely that mentality," said quarterback Collin Klein, whose Heisman Trophy hopes took a hit that Saturday night in Waco. "I don't know if I'd necessarily call it anger, but there's a lot of motivation and buildup of we just need to get back on track. Our last two performances haven't been stellar. There's a lot of motivation there. I don't know if it's anger, but there's some motivation, no doubt." The Wildcats (10-1, 7-1) had become one of the nation's trendiest teams behind the stoic play of Klein, the unwavering leadership of 73-year-old coach Bill Snyder and a defense that had managed to ground some of the most potent offenses in the entire country. Klein made the cover of Sports Illustrated. National programs were doing segments on the Wildcats. The stretch of Interstate 70 from Kansas City to tiny Manhattan, Kan., became just a little bit busier as Kansas State kept piling up victory upon victory. But then the Wildcats headed to Baylor, and everything unraveled. Klein threw three interceptions in arguably his worst game as a starter, and was held to just 39 yards on the ground. Running back John Hubert managed only 43 yards rushing, while that stone-wall defense was shredded by quarterback Nick Florence and the Bears' running backs. Lache Seastrunk ran for 185 yards and a touchdown. Glasco Martin had 113 yards and three more scores. Florence accounted for nearly 300 yards and three more touchdowns. The result wasn't just a loss, but a 52-24 humiliation. Snyder admitted he was angry with the result, not merely disappointed. And he said that attitude was embraced by the rest of the team - the Wildcats let the biggest opportunity in school history slip through their fingers, countless hours of grueling work sullied by one poor night. "If that attitude does persist, I would hope it would be throughout our team, and not be exclusive to one particular group," Snyder said. "We've won collectively and our loss is a collective loss, and our preparation needs to be collective and our attitude just the same." Senior kicker Anthony Cantele was the first to acknowledge feeling the same raw emotion that Snyder experienced in the hours after the game, but said things have started to change. "At first there was some anger that set in," Cantele said, "but once we started to practice, we realized, especially the seniors, this is our last chance to play at home." The senior class has Kansas State poised to capture only the third conference championship in school history with a win over a Texas team turning from banged-up starter David Ash to Case McCoy at quarterback. Ash had three first-half turnovers in a 20-13 loss to TCU on Thanksgiving Day and was twice pulled from the game. McCoy, who hasn't started since the 2011 regular-season finale, relieved Ash and was 11 of 17 for 110 yards with an interception. Although coach Mack Brown called the passing game "inept" against the Horned Frogs, an unspecified rib injury to Ash also seems to be a factor in the change. "He's not (healthy). We don't get into 'ifs' and 'whats,'" Brown said. "We're trying to figure out what to do with what we've got." While the offense has its questions, one of the biggest concerns for the Longhorns (8-3, 5-3) is finding a way to slow down a high-powered offense - something they've had no luck accomplishing. Kansas State ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 40.5 points per game, and Texas has allowed the conference's top three scoring offenses - Oklahoma State, Baylor and Oklahoma - to put up an average of 49.7 points. Texas hasn't beaten the Wildcats since 2003, losing four straight meetings - the last two with Klein under center for Kansas State. "Coach Snyder always talks about finishing," Klein said. "As a senior, for all of us as seniors, being able to finish strong is what we want, no doubt."
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