The dichotomy between Bill Snyder's and the Kansas State fan base’s approach to football has always been one of the more intriguing aspects of the relationship.
The coach has been a bastion, anchored by a steady, day-to-day focus on attaining the highest degree of success possible. The fan base fastened its cord to Snyder long ago, but in a way that has always allowed its dreams of K-State glory to float higher than they should have at times. Often those dreams are tugged violently downward by the deflating winds of change that come with unexpected losses.
By no means was last Saturday's blowout against Oklahoma an unexpected loss, but it feels that way this week as talk leading up to this game has been hard to come by. It's almost like people are hoping that by avoiding discussion, the game in Stillwater won't happen.
Look, I get it.
Fans were ready. They were ready to not just hop aboard the bandwagon, but secure a luxury seat and ride along the last month of the season in comfort. They wanted to keep reliving the late 1990s. They wanted to dream a little BCS dream. Then, the second half of last Saturday happened.
Crashing hard off a three-day bender is a better feeling than soaking in the thought that a truly magical season just derailed. Trust me, I've suffered both a couple of times.
This one stings a little more, however, because it feels like that single loss to OU counted as three. That's apparently the mindset of pollsters who were willing to drop K-State to its lowest ranks in a month because one horrific half of football. Why wouldn't they do it again if this weekend's game with Oklahoma State gets out of hand? The AP and Coach’s polls, which haven't been Big 12 friendly, crushed then No. 16 Texas A&M out of both after the Aggies fell apart at home against Missouri (a once-ranked team itself). Why would KSU get any different treatment if another big loss happens?
It doesn't make sense.
- Once it moves past this weekend, K-State has three games remaining, all winnable, and two of those are at home.
- K-State is a potential 10-win team, with both *losses* (yes, I'm saying OSU wins) coming against Top-5 BCS programs.
- Bowl projections, at this point, have the Wildcats in the Cotton Bowl as both OU and OSU are projected for BCS bowls.
So why, pray tell, is this team is fighting for respect in the polls and having to fight for its fans to keep their attention? Maybe it isn't. Maybe fans are just down this week at the thought of playing the Cowboys right after the Sooners. Maybe polls are showing why they should be used for entertainment purposes only. Either way, I'm interested to see where things stand after the weekend.
Regardless, the big picture is the important thing. K-State simply needs to just get out of this weekend with its roster and a little of its confidence intact. Then, they can make a hard charge through the remaining games with Texas A&M, Texas and Iowa State.
A 10-win regular season should be the goal. Knowing that this team needs every intangible it can find to accomplish that means fans can't let the two hardest games of the year derail their enthusiasm.
While tough to go through, many fans need to remember Bill Snyder's approach: Not too high, not too low. Keep striving to be a little better today than yesterday.
And keep focus.