Try as they might, Kansas State football players haven’t stopped thinking about the beatdown Oklahoma gave them last season.
They remember the final score (55-0), the difference in total yardage (568-110) and the fans (not many) that remained inside Snyder Family Stadium until the game ended. There is no blocking out the game with a rematch against the Sooners looming at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“All the seniors and all the juniors are really focusing on this game, because that game really upset them,” K-State defensive end Reggie Walker said. “Just watching it made me upset, because I had never been part of something like that. We all want to make this a much better game.”
Things should be more competitive this time around. K-State has won its last two trips to Norman and enters the game as a 10 1/2-point underdog. The Wildcats have lost both of their road games this season, but they were competitive, falling 26-13 at Stanford and 17-16 at West Virginia.
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Sophomore defensive back D.J. Reed is willing to guarantee K-State won’t suffer a blowout loss this time around.
“That just won’t happen,” Reed said. “I am not trying to sound cocky or arrogant, but we really think we can win this week. We have got the guys to do it. That is really how I feel.”
Of course, K-State players were confident heading into the Oklahoma game last year, too.
What went so wrong last season? Everything.
The Sooners scored on their first drive, the Wildcats unsuccessfully tried to answer with a series of deep passes, and then the Sooners scored again. That pattern continued until K-State’s will to fight back disappeared. Oklahoma led 35-0 at halftime and continued to dominate the final two quarters.
Many expected a close game, as Oklahoma was coming off a loss to Texas and K-State had recently played Oklahoma State and TCU to the wire. But things went much differently.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 282 yards and five touchdowns and running back Joe Mixon rushed for 73 yards and a score. On the flip side, K-State quarterbacks Joe Hubener and Kody Cook combined to complete 5 of 22 passes for 45 yards and three interceptions.
K-State coach Bill Snyder wasn’t sure how to handle the loss leading up to this week’s game. Should he ignore it with players or focus on it? Eventually, he made a decision.
“If it happened, it happened. So you can’t really avoid it,” Snyder said. “Certainly, I think it was on their mind whether I address it or not. We have to address last year’s ballgame for a lot of different reasons, not just the fact that we didn’t show up. Certainly, from a schematic standpoint and preparation for this year’s game, being able to go back and evaluate that game will be somewhat beneficial.”
One thing is for sure: players are looking back at the loss for motivation.
“We definitely don’t want that again,” K-State defensive back Duke Shelley said. “We didn’t come to play last year. We know that. This year we are definitely looking to make things happen. Oklahoma is a great team, but I feel like if we do what we are coached to do and do what we are capable of we will go out there and shock some people.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett
Kansas State at No. 19 Oklahoma
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Norman, Okla.
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ROAD WARRIORS: The road team has won five straight in this series dating back to 2011, with Oklahoma winning three times in Manhattan and K-State winning twice in Norman. When asked to explain that trend, Bill Snyder said, “Beats the tar out of me.” The Wildcats have never won three straight road games against the Sooners.
TRASH TALK: Baker Mayfield questioned a comment from Reggie Walker earlier this week in which the defensive end said Oklahoma’s running backs are “easy to tackle if you do your assignments, you know, wrap up and just get them down.” Will that motivate Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and the rest of Oklahoma’s offense?
PASSING PERCENTAGE: K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz has completed 51 of 105 passes. He hasn’t completed more than half his passes against a power-conference opponent. That will likely need to change for the Wildcats to pull an upset.