MANHATTAN, Kan. — Five miles north of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, at the bottom of Tuttle Creek Lake sits a keg of beer, probably. An outboard motor. Maybe a goal post from the 1989 victory over North Texas that snapped Kansas State’s 31-game winless skid.
And now Oklahoma State’s 2018 football season.
That’s how it feels, anyhow. How can it not after such a feeble result?
K-State invited the Cowboys to run away in the first half thanks to a passing game drawn up with crayons. OSU responded by ignoring Justice Hill (four carries in the half), having Taylor Cornelius throw 15 times and taking a flimsy 6-3 lead going into the break.
The Wildcats said, “Thank you,” made adjustments that OSU coaches did not, and promptly flattened the Cowboys’ defense with four touchdown drives in four second-half possessions.
With Cornelius struggling and Hill’s effectiveness short-circuited by the deficit, the Pokes never hinted at a comeback. They wound up rather humiliated instead, coaches standing along the sidelines with arms folded as the final seconds ticked away, then several players beelining to their locker room instead of congratulating their opponent at the gun.
A shame, that. Both teams came in desperate, with losing Big 12 records, but only one acted like it. The Wildcats did themselves quite proud fighting out of their corner.
The Cowboys? Dear no.
Next they host Texas in two weeks, go to Baylor and Oklahoma and then finish against West Virginia and at TCU. Where do you see the wins? How does this team get to a fourth-tier bowl?
What in Barry Sanders’ name has happened since OSU’s destruction of Boise State?
How alarmed is coach Mike Gundy?
“It’s not alarming at all,” he claimed in postgame. “We prepare the same week for every single game. It’s no different. It’s been that way for 14 years. We go to work, we put a game plan together, we get guys ready to play, we go play. If we were to ever start (getting) alarmed, it would make it a lot worse.”
Yeah, but K-State came in struggling. To have them do what they did in the second half ...
“I already answered it once,” Gundy said. “You’re asking me the same question twice.”
Just making sure you wanna go with the same answer ...
“Don’t worry about me,” he said.
After what I watched Saturday, I worry quite seriously about his team and its season.
I worry that Cornelius has slammed his helmet against his ceiling.
“This is really the first game we came away instantaneously, without looking at the tape, saying he didn’t play satisfactorily,” OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “That’s an understatement.”
So is the fact the Cowboys need a spark, wherever they can get it. Maybe a different quarterback, even in specially designed situations, can provide one.
Gundy has an extra week before Texas. Might he consider giving Spencer Sanders or Dru Brown a look?
“Not really,” he answered. “I didn’t think (Cornelius) threw very well today, but up until then I thought he’d played pretty well. ... We have to look and see and give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Up to this point, he’s played well enough to not have any discussion at that.”
OK. Does a mess like Saturday prompt a longer, harder self-evaluation by coaches?
“In the running game it does,” defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. “We’ve been back and forth. We’ve been pretty good in the running game, had some bad games against the pass. So you make some adjustments and come out pretty well in the first half against the pass. Then you lose the running game battle.
“It’s a chess match all the time. It’s my job to continue to look for answers.”
“Absolutely,” Yurcich said. “You try to get the game plan in as fast as you can so your guys can have extra reps at whatever you plan to call against Texas.”
Are you alarmed by what happened here today?
“I expect way more production out of our offense,” Yurcich said.
That makes this more disappointing than typical?
Yurcich: “Unless you’re a masochist.”
It was that bad Saturday. It was hard enough to believe the Cowboys couldn’t separate from a team arguably playing worse than Kansas. Then it dawned on you they were going to lose. Then, as they were being outscored 28-6 after halftime, that they were going to lose badly.
Where was this headed other than the bottom of that lake?
“We have to look and see what we’re doing, where we’re at, why there’s mistakes,” Gundy said. “If we’re not as disciplined in certain areas as we need to be, why is that? What can we do to correct it?
“We’re aware of the situation. You don’t have to worry about that. We know what’s going on. We’re trying to do what we can as soon as possible to fix them.”
In the midst of that statement, Gundy also said: “You can’t panic. You can’t do that.”
No, he can’t.
I just don’t see how he doesn’t, given this demoralizing day.