This week could have been among the most enjoyable Thanksgivings in the history of the Little Apple.
Instead, it'll be one of the most painful. Losing by 28 points to a four-win team in your 11th game of the season -- and first-ever as the BCS No. 1 -- will have that effect.
Kansas State was oh, so close to playing for a national title, but has no choice but to move forward during its bye week and prepare to play for a Big 12 title in a week against Texas.
"We probably weren’t as well prepared as we needed to be. Secondly, I think Baylor played extremely well, both offensively and defensively, a combination of those provide favorable results," KSU coach Bill Snyder said. "All you had to do was watch the ball game. We obviously didn’t play as well, didn’t coach as well as was necessary in order to have success."
The Big 12's No. 2 rush defense couldn't stop Baylor's rushing attack, and costly penalties in the first half kept Baylor drives humming along as the Bears rolled to an early lead that only grew in the second half. KSU quarterback Collin Klein had just three turnovers in three games. He added three more against Baylor, turning his Heisman hopes to near impossibility. Injuries to safety Ty Zimmerman and receiver Tyler Lockett proved costly, as did missing linebacker Tre Walker, one of the team's best linebackers. But Snyder's not leaning on those absences as an excuse.
"We have been fortunate in that respect, and the impact that it had in this particular ballgame was not an issue," Snyder said. "There were far greater things than that that impacted our performance."
Kansas State can take encouragement, though, from another team who went through the almost exact same dilemma a year ago. Oklahoma State lost an undefeated season in double overtime to five-win Iowa State, just two weeks before a season finale against Oklahoma and the national title game within reach. Heisman frontrunner Brandon Weeden lost his status, too, just like Klein.
OSU spent the bye week getting ready instead of feeling sorry for itself and delivered a 44-10 beating to the Sooners to notch the greatest season in school history. The same opportunity awaits Kansas State.
"You don’t get away from what you’ve done over the course of the season. You have to learn how to deal with the emotions that come from this, a tremendous amount of disappointment and eventually that turns into anger and frustration," Snyder said. "Maybe frustration comes first, and then the anger, but then it’s a matter of being able to each of us individually looking at the things we can do better and need to get corrected, and accept responsibility to do so."
Snyder said he'll give his players some time off for Thanksgiving before they return to campus to officially prepare for next week's game against Texas. Win, and the Big 12 title and automatic bid to the BCS is coming to Manhattan. Lose, and anything could happen, including not even a share of the Big 12 title and not a sniff of a BCS bid.
"Sometimes it’s harder to come back or respond to a victory than it is defeat, and vice versa. Consistency needs to be a staple and it has been up to this point. We can’t all of a sudden decide that we’re the worst team in the world and alter everything. We just have to stay the course and keep rowing the boat as we say so often," Snyder said.
"Feeling sorry for yourself’s not an option."