MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Bill Snyder wants his team to be angry. He wants the players within Kansas State to feel offended by the way they’ve played. He wants the Wildcats to be ornery about a third straight Big 12 loss.
He also wants them to start doing something about it.
The same feelings are shared by Kansas coach Charlie Weis, whose offensively challenged team is riding a 23-game league losing streak. Simply playing close games is no longer enough. He wants to win.
“I’m frustrated,” Weis said. “I’m the head coach. I get frustrated with everybody. Do I get frustrated with us not scoring points? You betcha. That’s one of many frustrations.”
The Wildcats dropped to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12 with a 35-25 loss to Baylor on Saturday, a game they led in the third quarter before letting it slip away. It’s the first time since 2004, before Snyder’s brief retirement, that Kansas State has lost its first three league games.
The Jayhawks were beaten 27-17 by TCU, a game they also were in the whole way. They took advantage of five turnovers to hang within a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter.
Still, the results in both cases were losses, and now the defending Big 12 champion Wildcats and perennial cellar-dwelling Jayhawks are keeping company at the bottom of the league standings.
“It better matter to them. It better matter to everybody if it involves the program,” Snyder said. “I hate to think that you lose four ball games through the early segments of your season and be a 2-4 football team and not have it matter. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I think it does matter to our players and they don’t want to be there. They want to do something about it.”
The Wildcats at least have a week off to figure things out.
Their bye during the conference schedule comes this week, which means they also have a chance to get healthy. Wide receivers Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett missed the game against Baylor due to injuries, taking away the big-play threat from the Wildcats’ ground-based offense.
When they return, Kansas State gets struggling West Virginia and a chance to turn things around.
“We just have to go out there and come together. We cannot let this get to us. We cannot fall,” said sophomore quarterback Daniel Sams, who ran for 199 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears, but also threw an interception in the waning minutes as Kansas State was trying to tie the game.
“We have to use this to pull each other up,” Sams said.
This is certainly unfamiliar territory for Kansas State, which won 11 games and was No. 1 in the BCS standings at one point last season, and which won 10 games and went to the Cotton Bowl the previous year. The Wildcats haven’t had a losing season since 2008, their last under Ron Prince.
“We are a lot better than we show,” said Jake Waters, who shares time with Sams at quarterback. “Each game is tough. For the most part, I think we’ve played well enough to win.”
The Jayhawks, meanwhile, are much more accustomed to coming up short.
They haven’t won a Big 12 game since beating former league member Colorado in 2010 under former coach Turner Gill. The last win for Kansas (2-3, 0-2) against a current conference member was two coaches ago, when Mark Mangino led the team past Iowa State on Oct. 10, 2009.
Now in his second season, Weis has come close to breaking through. The Jayhawks lost to Texas Tech in double overtime last season, and also had close losses to Texas, Oklahoma State and TCU. But they were routed by the Red Raiders last week, and couldn’t finish off the Horned Frogs on Saturday.
Still, Weis found reason to be optimistic with the outcome.
The Jayhawks gave up a touchdown midway through the first quarter and a field goal early in the second quarter, but refused to go away. They answered with a touchdown of their own off an interception by JaCorey Shepherd to keep the game tied at halftime, and then hung around the rest of the way.
Signs of progress? Perhaps so, modest though it may be.
The next step for Kansas — and Kansas State, for that matter — is to finally get a win.