Kansas State will play Texas A&M for the 16th time when the former Big 12 rivals meet later this month in the Texas Bowl, but it doesn’t feel like that many to Bill Snyder.
When he recalls past games against the Aggies, the K-State coach blocks out all but one: a 36-33 double-overtime defeat in the 1998 Big 12 championship game.
“Most people remember the ones you won, I remember the ones you lose,” Snyder said Thursday at a Texas Bowl news conference in Houston. “I remember playing in a championship ballgame against Texas A&M a number of years ago. Michael (Bishop) was our quarterback. If we win the ballgame, we go to the national championship. I think we had a 17-point lead going into the fourth quarter and lost.
“Not because of Michael. Michael was an All-American quarterback. But I remember he threw one of those Hail Mary passes at the very end of the ballgame which would have given us the opportunity to win and our receiver caught it on the 3-yard line and the gun went off and we went home. That’s my memory of all the times that we played Texas A&M.”
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For some, that defeat will go down as the most painful K-State football loss. The Wildcats, behind the sensational play of Bishop, started 11-0 and appeared poised to win Snyder his first Big 12 championship, and possibly more. But it all came crashing down when Texas A&M receiver Sirr Parker caught a 32-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the second overtime.
It still stings.
Shortly after K-State and Texas A&M accepted invitations to the Texas Bowl, Snyder was asked to reflect on the last meeting between the two teams, a thrilling 53-50 victory for the Wildcats in 2011 that took four overtimes to decide. Instead, he discussed the loss in ’98, saying it was the only game in the series he could “truly remember.”
Meeting Bishop in Houston on Thursday made that game feel even more recent.
Bishop, now a high school coach in the area, attended the news conference with Snyder and posed for videos in front of the Texas Bowl backdrop. It was impossible for Snyder to see the former quarterback’s face and not think about the 22-3 record they compiled together.
“It was wonderful to see Michael Bishop here,” Snyder said. “Michael was (a) quarterback for us. He’s from the Houston area. Very, very talented player at Kansas State University. We loved him.”
Bishop will be there to watch the Wildcats face the Aggies on Dec. 28 at NRG Stadium.
It will be a challenging game for K-State. Both teams finished the regular season 8-4, but the Aggies are an early three-point favorite. Texas A&M leads the series 8-7.
Snyder knew little about Texas A&M when the game was announced Sunday, but he had gathered enough research on the Aggies to say they are “starting to scare me a little bit.”
“They have a great deal of balance in their offense,” Snyder said. “If you look at the offensive numbers, there’s a good deal of balance between the run and the pass. When you look at some of the talent they have and you look at their wide receivers, their numbers are off the charts.”
Given his memories of Texas A&M, Snyder didn’t expect anything less.
“I have always,” Snyder said, “had a great deal of respect for their program.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett