Over the next two weeks, we’ll continue to close the door on the 2013 season. Every Big 12 team suffered at least one loss during the regular season, and losses can be as beneficial as wins. In this team-by-team series, we’ll take a look at the best loss of the year for each Big 12 team, including what happened and why it matters.
On Friday, we focus on Kansas State.
Best loss: 35-25 against Baylor on Oct. 12 in a game that could have destroyed the Wildcats’ confidence if the Bears had continued rolling like they had to that point.
What happened: The Wildcats showed the world Baylor was not invincible and, in doing so, they proved to themselves they weren’t that far away from being a good team and making a bowl run. Bill Snyder’s squad used its quarterbacks' legs, not their arms, to take advantage of Baylor’s defense and keep the Bears' offense off the field. Daniel Sams and Jake Waters combined for 242 rushing yards and running back John Hubert added 90 yards on the ground as the Wildcats showed their running game could have success against a defense that finished among the Big 12's best. KSU had a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter, but Ahmad Dixon's interception sealed the deal for Baylor.
Baylor entered the game averaging 70.5 points and 781.5 yards per game and 9.68 yards per play. Against KSU, Baylor scored 35 points, gained 446 yards and averaged 7.69 yards per play. It was a very solid all-around performance from a Wildcats squad that entered the game with a losing (2-3) record.
Why it was helpful: KSU could have watched its season snowball into a losing campaign if the Wildcats had given up 50-plus points and been run off the field at home. Instead, they got a good feel for how to use Sams and Waters together in the same offense while the defense got confidence from slowing down the nation’s best offense at the time.
The Wildcats' performance sent a clear message that KSU could turn things around and make a bowl game. KSU won four straight games after the loss, and Sugar Bowl champion Oklahoma was the only team to beat the Wildcats after this defeat, as KSU finished 8-5 after a 2-4 start.
Revealing stat: 80. The Wildcats ran a season-high 80 plays while Baylor ran 52, a sign that KSU’s offensive game plan of controlling the ball and keeping the Bears offense on the sidelines worked well. KSU averaged 63.69 plays per game this season.
Quote of note: “I was really pleased with the effort of our football team. With one exception in the entirety of the ballgame, I thought we played as hard as we have at any time during the course of the year.” -- KSU coach Bill Snyder.