The K-State football team finished its first season back under the helm of head coach Bill Snyder Saturday night in Lincoln, Neb., as the Wildcats closed at 6-6 on the year. Defensively, the Huskers were too much to handle for K-State.
Finishing the game 11-of-31 with 126 yards, senior quarterback Grant Gregory was devastating to watch in the first half as he could not move K-State into the red zone even once. In the second half, the Wildcats made progress but never found the touch to keep a drive alive as they fell to Nebraska 17-3.
In the first half of the matchup, K-State came out and appeared ready to play. The Wildcats pounded the ball down the field 58 yards and finishing the drive with a 44-yard field goal.
But then, it tailed off. Holding Nebraska defensively, the Wildcats continued their onslaught of offensive mistakes, taking themselves out of every chance, position or possibility they got their hands on. In following with last week’s disappointing performance against Missouri, K-State failed to put up a score with anyone but special teams, and went a consecutive nine quarters without any touchdowns to end the season. The last touchdown occurred on Nov. 7 against Kansas when Daniel Thomas took in a five-yard rush.
Giving up two missed field goals and a touchdown lost by a fumble inside the 1-yard line, K-State should have trailed 17-16, but instead were down by fourteen points as the third quarter came to a close. For the second game in a row, strangely enough, the K-State offense coughed up its first attempt at a touchdown inside the 1-yard line and could not recover the momentum.
Nebraska put up 10 points in the first half and the Wildcats seemed in full meltdown mode for the continuation of the game. They could not manage to move the ball from the 1-yard line when Nebraska pinned them on a great punt by Alex Henery.
They later lost a full head of steam after Tysyn Hartman pulled in a goal-line interception. K-State could not buy a break. Henery went on to boot a 61-yard punt that rolled out of bounds at the 3-yard line, shutting them down once again.
Nebraska, on the other hand, had an answer for a battered K-State offense at every turn. Although the highly touted Ndamukong Suh had no great punishment to lay down, the defensive line put pressure on Gregory all night and caused him to make plenty of hurried decisions resulting in three-and-outs and an interception late in the second quarter.
Nebraska’s defense, ranked No. 10 in the nation in total defense coming into the Big 12 North title game, outplayed K-State.
K-State closes the season with a .500 record that gives critics the satisfaction they wanted, saying there was nothing impressive in Manhattan this year. Snyder had a different thought on the matter, however, as he promoted the foundation that was laid this year.
“We made mistakes that cost us a very fine opportunity for our program and for our players and for our seniors,” Snyder said. “I was saddened that we couldn’t deliver that opportunity for our seniors. I was proud of our football team for putting themselves in the position they were in this evening. I wanted our seniors to understand that they will always be a part of the foundation.”
Although Nebraska will turn around to face Texas at the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game, it seems unlikely the North would come away with a victory in this up and down season. Both K-State and Nebraska finished the game with under 300 total yards of offense, and both have struggled with consistency for the majority of the year.