The game occurred more than two years ago, but Travis Britz remembers the highlights as if it were yesterday.
There was the vicious Arthur Brown hit that broke up a pass across the middle. There was the nifty juke move John Hubert used on a 9-yard touchdown run. And who can forget the Justin Tuggle sack that forced a fumble and led to score for Jarell Childs? Those moments defined a 24-19 victory over Oklahoma in K-State’s last trip to Memorial Stadium.
“Thinking back, we had a great defensive effort,” said Britz, a junior defensive tackle. “I remember Arthur Brown had a great hit on a wide receiver that really set the tone, and our defensive line provided great pressure the whole way. That is something we are going to have to repeat on Saturday.”
If the Wildcats can repeat their successful 2012 trip to Oklahoma, perhaps they can also repeat their memorable 2012 season, when they won their first 10 games and claimed a conference championship.
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Beating Oklahoma, ranked sixth at the time, seemed to propel K-State to greater things. The Wildcats entered that game ranked 15th with victories over Missouri State, Miami and North Texas and left it ranked in the top 10, where it stayed for the remainder of the season.
This time, it sets off to Norman ranked 14th with wins over Stephen F. Austin, Iowa State, Texas-El Paso and Texas Tech. Could another marquee victory push K-State back into the top 10?
“I know (beating Oklahoma) helped us two years ago,” Britz said. “Throughout the season there we had great senior leadership from Vai Lutui, Arthur Brown, Jarell Childs and Justin Tuggle. All those guys, they really worked hard and they really worked together toward their goals. That is something that, as a defense, we are trying to work for now. If we get this win on Saturday, we will take a step in that direction. It could really propel ourselves to another great season.”
Britz isn’t the only member of K-State’s roster who fondly remembers his last trip to Oklahoma.
Senior linebacker Jonathan Truman grins every time he thinks back to the postgame scene in the visiting locker room.
“It was pretty exciting. It was an early game in the season and that game seemed to set the tone for the rest of the season,” Truman said. “I know we just had a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm after that win.”
Winning at Oklahoma is no easy task. Since Bob Stoops took over as coach, the Sooners are 89-5 at home, including a 14-1 mark against ranked conference opponents. That lone loss was to K-State. They have bounced back since, winning 11 straight home games.
Bill Snyder said K-State found success against Oklahoma two years ago because of its mind-set. The team blocked out distractions and played as if “every snap counted.”
“Our players, on both sides of the ball, did exactly that,” Snyder said.
The majority of K-State’s current roster wasn’t around two years ago, but the veterans that were are already reminding their teammates to approach this game the same way if they want the same result.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Britz said. “Oklahoma has a great venue, a great team and great fans. It is just going to be a great atmosphere. We will be up for the challenge.”
Remembering David Garrett
Coach Bill Snyder said K-State would honor former cornerback David Garrett on Saturday, likely by wearing his initials on its helmets or uniforms.
Garrett, an All-Big 12 honorable-mention defender as a senior in 2011, was shot and killed outside a Cleveland nightclub Saturday morning. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported a fight occurred inside the nightclub and continued outside, where someone fired a shot into the crowd, hitting Garrett in the chest. He was 26.
Snyder said K-State players took news of Garrett’s death hard.
“David was a good young guy,” Snyder said. “Our players are hurt by it. Those who are here remember David. He was an enjoyable guy for our players to be around. He was a guy who played the game with passion. They have a great appreciation for that, as I did. He was a little guy, but he played hard. He was a big-time hitter. He just had a passion for playing the game and for being a good guy. He was a good teammate.”
| Kellis Robinett, firstname.lastname@example.org