Kansas State coach Bill Snyder knows how to recover from a losing streak. If he wrote a book on the subject, his peers might preorder it on Amazon.
Consider his history:
In 2013, K-State lost three straight games and dropped to 2-4, the team’s worst start in a decade. But the Wildcats rallied and won six of their final seven games, including a 31-14 victory against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
In 2003, three straight losses sent K-State from inside the top 10 to outside the national polls. Frustration was high, but the Wildcats regrouped and won their next seven games, including a 35-7 blowout of then-No. 1 Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
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In 2001, K-State played in a bowl game despite a four-game losing streak. In 1991, K-State lost three straight and finished 7-4. In 1989, K-State was on a 27-game winless streak when it hired Snyder.
He has been here before. No one knows how K-State will respond from its current three-game skid, including Saturday’s 55-0 loss to Oklahoma, but Snyder isn’t hitting the panic button. No one is.
“Keep believing in us,” K-State senior quarterback/receiver Kody Cook said. “This is the most disappointing loss I have ever experienced in my career. I know (fans) are very disappointed right now in the last three weeks, but I think a pretty talented team in 2003 won the Big 12 championship after three losses. It can be done. We are going to bounce back. There is no doubt in my mind that we will bounce back. Coach Snyder will have us ready.”
K-State hopes to start a similar turnaround Saturday at Texas. It won’t be easy. The Longhorns are favored by four, and they are coming off a victory on Oct. 10 against No. 17 Oklahoma.
Then again, K-State, 3-3 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12, has a better record than Texas, 2-4 and 1-2. Perhaps all the Wildcats need to bounce back is a revitalized mind-set.
They won their first three games and fell just short against No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 4 TCU. Throw out the Oklahoma loss, and they have exceeded preseason expectations.
It sounds odd, but players admitted they experienced a letdown against the Sooners. They thought they were the better team and didn’t play with the same passion they showed in previous games.
“Maybe we got a little too big-headed,” defensive tackle Will Geary said.
Quarterback Joe Hubener said: “The biggest difference was our spirit. I felt like you could feel that energy and that spirit in our guys coming out against TCU, and I don’t know that we ever had it against OU.”
Snyder witnessed similar failings during previous losing streaks.
The Wildcats tried to right their wrongs by calling a players’ only meeting Monday and taking an angry approach into practice.
So far, Snyder likes the response. It reminds him of past turnarounds.
“The biggest thing that allowed those to happen was young guys realizing that there was a reason for them to be confident if they did things that they had not done up to that point of time,” Snyder said of past turnarounds. “When I say they, it is just not the players, but players, coaches — myself, in particular — we had taken some things for granted.
“Consequently, we got back to doing the things that we were capable of doing, and a big part of it was having meetings with players about how we practiced and not taking our practices for granted. The effort level stepped up, the focus stepped up and the discipline stepped up, as I recall. I think that had an impact.”
Still, this seems like the most challenging turnaround K-State has faced. This team is decimated by injuries, something the Wildcats didn’t experience in 2013 or 2003. They are down three quarterbacks and multiple defensive starters. Talent and depth are issues. So is coaching.
Everything went wrong against Oklahoma, the worst home shutout loss in school history.
“It is not so much losing three in a row (that has hurt us),” Snyder said, “as it is how badly we were defeated this last week. That is probably the most significant thing.”
Snyder doesn’t have a long history of bouncing back from lopsided losses, but in 2009 K-State beat Texas A&M 62-14 one week after losing at Texas Tech 66-14, a 100-point turnaround.
It has happened before.
“We pull on that,” Hubener said. “Other teams have done it. We can do it, too.”
Kellis Robinett: @KellisRobinett