The Wildcats scored three TDs in the span of five minutes to rout in-state rival Kansas on Saturday.
By SEAN KEELERFS Kansas City
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas tried. Honest, it did. The Jayhawks threw everything at the
Wildcats that wasn't nailed down. Fake punts. Fake field goals. Quarterbacks-slash-wideouts under center.
Charlie Weis thought it might be fun to poke the tiger with a stick. Which is always good for a laugh, until the tiger wakes up.
"I'm not a mind-reader," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said after his men had finished a little 56-16 tap dance over Weis' Jayhawks. "But collectively, I think they were angry."
The seventh-ranked Wildcats opened the first half by allowing the visitors to march 83 yards on 12 plays for a go-ahead score, and ended it by getting the ball at the KU 5 with 16 seconds left and somehow coming away with zero points to show from it. In between, Weis emptied the playbook, faking a punt and faking a field goal — on the same drive.
"Bad start and a bad ending to the first half," Snyder groused, sounding not unlike a disappointed parent.
So, yeah, he was angry.
Heck, they all were.
"We were all upset, because we didn't play up to our potential," linebacker Jarell Childs noted. "I think we took it for granted a little bit."
Trap game, anyone?
"A ‘trap game' is when people take people for granted. And we're not going to take anything for granted," wideout Chris Harper countered. "Because we've been the guys that nobody else paid any attention to. So we understand what that's about."
While the Wildcats try and reach a consensus, the bottom-line takeaway is this: If you're Snyder, you'd better be ready to get everybody's best shot, from now straight through to Christmas. The only way K-State's kids sneak up on anyone is if they're dropped out of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
"I think that's for everybody else to worry about," linebacker Tre Walker allowed. "It doesn't matter where we're going — we could be going to Canada to play football, but I think if we keep the game in the white lines and just do what we do best, control what we can control, we'll be just fine."
"You can't take anyone lightly in this game," left tackle Cornelius Lucas added. "Because each and every day, you can get beat. You've always got to have your head on a swivel."
Weis had two weeks to coach the Jayhawks up for this, and it showed For a half, his offense controlled the clock, dominated the line of scrimmage, took care of the football, and had the best special teams units on the field. In other words, he was out-Snydering Snyder in the building that bears Snyder's name. As plans go, it was an absolute keeper.
Someday, perhaps someday soon, Weis is going to have horses to make this interesting. For now, though, it's a pack of mules, gadget plays, and crossed fingers.
None of which were going to hold up Saturday, largely because the Wildcats are a yard-chomping, butt-kicking automaton when they're in the mood. After almost shamefully clinging to a 21-14 lead at the break, the hosts came out of the locker room and dropped the hammer, outscoring Kansas 28-2 in the third quarter. One particularly nutty stretch featured a Dayne Crist interception — he wound up tossing three on the day — followed by a Kansas safety; followed by the Jayhawks fumbling the ensuing kickoff right back to the Wildcats; followed by a 32-yard touchdown run by K-State's John Hubert, all in the span of about 58 seconds.
"It was crazy," Lucas chuckled. "It was crazy and amazing at the same time."
Speaking of crazy and amazing: Iowa State 37, at No. 15 TCU 23. And guess who's up next on the docket.
"Iowa State's a good team. They're pretty similar to us, honestly," Harper said of the 4-1 Cyclones, whom the Wildcats visit on Oct. 13, a week before that highly-anticipated trip to West Virginia. "From (seeing them) last year, they did, like, the same exact thing on offense, and on defense, they've got those linebackers that can play. So I mean, we're not going to take them for granted. We definitely know we're going to be in for a fight. Because they can play."
That they can. The last time K-State laced ‘em up in Ames, Iowa, was 2007 — Collin Klein was 18 and playing his senior season of high-school ball at the time; Snyder was 68 and retired. The last time the Wildcats actually won a game at Iowa State was the fall of 2003. Talk about unfamiliar territory.
"I heard that they're the ones with pink locker rooms," Harper said.
Err, no — actually, that's Kinnick Stadium, the one in Iowa City.
"Well, no, I haven't heard anything about them, then," Harper said.
We're not mind-readers, either. But you'd think Snyder's not going to be cool with them sleepwalking through the first half for a second straight week.
"He's kind of quiet," Childs said of his coach, "but deadly."