Kansas State’s 2014 performance against the Jayhawks added to the continued recent series dominance against Kansas. The Wildcats started the game quickly, taking a 14-0 lead within the first five minutes and a 31-6 lead at halftime. While K-State would not be as dominating in the second half, the Wildcats would still walk away with a 51-13 win. After the victory, Kansas State had won the last five matchups against the Jayhawks by an average of 31.6 points.
While Kansas State has a strong history against the Longhorns (being the only Big XII team with an all-time winning record against Texas), October’s matchup against the blue bloods from Austin was special for Wildcat fans. Holding Texas to 196 total yards, Kansas State shutout the Longhorns for the first time for the Texas program since 2004.
Norman is a traditionally tough place to play, especially under Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. Before the 2014 season, the Sooners only lost five games in Norman under Stoops. Kansas State entered the Sooner matchup seeking to become the first team to have a winning streak against the Sooners during the Stoops Era. While surrendering 533 offensive yards, K-State won in Norman 31-30 after blocking a game-tying extra point and staging a goal-line stand. Following the stand, Sooner kicker Michael Hunnicutt came into the game and missed a chip-shot field goal.
Charting the Waters
Jake Waters was not the most loved quarterback in Kansas State history. His style of play was not as flashy as former Wildcat greats Ell Robertson and Michael Bishop, and some questioned the number of sacks he took. However, at the end of the day, Waters emerged from the 2014 season the holder of the Wildcats’ single-season passing yards record at 3,501 yards. The accomplishment became even more impressive after Wildcat fans would learn Waters would undergo shoulder surgery after the season to fix an undisclosed injury that was played through for half of the season.
Kevin and Aaron Lockett are both K-State legends, cementing legacies at receiver and on special teams. Despite strong contributions to the Wildcats, Kevin’s son Tyler perhaps cemented a legacy as the greatest Lockett in 2014. Tyler became the first Wildcat to be an All-American for four straight years, including leading the nation in punt return average (out of players with more than five returns). On top of these accomplishments, Lockett became the Kansas State leader in three key categories: career receiving yards, career receiving touchdowns, and career receptions.
Lack of a Defining Win
While Kansas State had a solid season that ended with a #18 ranking in the AP poll, the Wildcats failed to beat any of the teams within that final poll. While a win against Oklahoma was big at the time, the Sooners faded down the stretch of the season. Kansas State also continued being winless in Top 10 matchups.
Three Consecutive Cart Trips
While not an indictment of Kansas State’s performance, Kansas State saw three Wildcats be carted off the field in the three final games of the year. During the Kansas matchup, senior linebacker David Smith was injured while on kickoff coverage, appearing to break his leg. Senior safety Dylan Schellenberg was carted off the following week in the Baylor game, breaking his leg in a gruesome fashion which was not shown again on television. Finally, junior offensive lineman Boston Stiverson went off late in the Alamo Bowl with a lower leg fracture, according to head coach Bill Snyder.
First Half of the Alamo Bowl
While Kansas State’s second half showing in the Alamo Bowl was impressive and the final score showed a close game throughout, the first half of play in the Alamodome was 30 minutes Wildcat fans would wish to forget. Kansas State had two turnovers in the second quarter that resulted in 14 Bruin points, was forced to settle for two field goals, and most importantly trailed at halftime 31-6.
Jack Cantele is a solid kicker, indicated by his 2013 performance. Despite Cantele’s abilities, he will also carry the cloud of missing three field goals against Auburn. While it is unfair to blame the loss on one player, especially when viewing other Wildcat mistakes in the game, Cantele is cemented as the scapegoat for one of Kansas State’s most painful losses.
Running Game Woes
Kansas State’s 2014 struggles appeared to come from a systemic cause: a lack of a running game. In the four Kansas State losses, the Wildcats averaged 52 rushing yards. Kansas State also ran poorly in some wins, such as a one Wildcat rushing yard performance in a victory over West Virginia. The Wildcats finished 8th in the Big XII in rushing yards per game at a 134.2 average, ranking only ahead of bottom dwelling Iowa State and Kansas