Dec. 10, 2011
By Mark Janssen
K-State Sports Extra
How did they do it?
How, coaches from Miami, Baylor, Texas, etc., are asking does Kansas State keep winning football games?
Heck, even coach Bill Snyder says, “We play good enough to win, but not good enough.”
So to the players … how, after being picked eighth in the preseason Big 12 poll, have you managed to win 10 games, place second in the Big 12 Conference, be ranked No. 8 in the final BCS poll and are now heading to the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 6?
“We just stick together,” said senior defensive back David Garrett. “We stuck together and continued to play. We just refused to lose."
Senior Tysyn Hartman adds, "We are fighters and half of the games that we won, we had to come from behind and find a way to make plays.”
The season of the “Cardiac ‘Cats” has been well chronicled with the eight down to the wire victories by 3, 4, 1, 7, 7, 3, 4 and 7 points, not to mention a 7-point loss to Oklahoma State in a game that went down to the final snap. Yes, eight wins by 7 points or less, and a ninth game decided by seven points.
How unusual is such a season? We’re guessing here that such a frantic season has never happened in the history of the college game.
Of all the seasons K-State has played football, only twice – 1911 and 1935 – has it played as many as seven games decided by seven points or less, and never has a Wildcat team won more than three games decided by seven points or less in a single year … until this season.
"It is just crazy,” admitted receiver Tramaine Thompson. “This whole season has been a magical season for everybody on this team. We expected to do well, but I do not think a lot of people expected us to be where we are right now.”
In a 10-win season, K-State was tied or trailed after the first quarter, and in five games it was tied or trailed at the half.
In the second halves of games, six times K-State trailed, or was tied, with its opponent only to come back and win. In a seventh game against Oklahoma State, the Wildcats fell behind by 10 in the second half only to come back and tie the game.
To all of that Garrett says, "I think it is special because everyone brings their own thing to the team. We do not have a lot of five-star recruits or big athletes like other schools, but we all stick together and do our role. We continue to work hard until we see all zeros on the clock."
Snyder did admit that the team is one of high character: “That’s extremely important to me. We still have some growth to make, but it is a collective strong group of principled young guy, and guys who have those intrinsic values.”
The result has been K-State’s ninth season of at least 10 victories in the school’s history, and the first since the 2003 season when the Wildcats won the Big 12 Championship.
“It feels great,” said Garrett. “I got here as a sophomore and we’ve improved each year, so to finish the year like this is great.”
Tre Walker added, “Every step of the way and every day we got better. We never sat down and wallowed in our defeat. We always made an effort to get better. People have started to realize that we have come a long way."
Hartman added, “We have been through a lot and to get 10 wins in our last season … we could not ask for more.”
Well, except for an 11th win on Jan. 6, 2012, when Kansas State plays Arkansas in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
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