With a nod to Pat Forde's annual March Madness dream and nightmare scenario piece, we've been coming up with the dream and nightmare scenarios for every Big 12 team. Of course, reality will fall somewhere in the middle. But imagine a season in which every single possible domino fell into place. And likewise, if all that could go wrong, well, did.
We continue the series with the Kansas State Wildcats:
Bill Snyder wasn’t using hyperbole when he compared freshman quarterback Alex Delton to a young Ell Roberson. Channeling the former K-State great, Delton takes over the starting job for good after a dazzling debut off the bench in the opener against South Dakota.
Delton, however, isn’t the only thrilling young gun out of the K-State backfield. Alex Barnes and Dalvin Warmack break out simultaneously, giving the Wildcats the best freshman thunder and lightning running back combination in the country.
Sure, the passing game attack isn’t a work of art. But Gandalf the Grey dials up a playbook seemingly out of 1972, and nobody can figure out how to stop it. Receivers Kyle Klein and Kody Cook are beast blockers on the perimeter, while fullback Glenn Gronkowski consistently delivers body blows. Jonathan Banks even gets in on the action as a Daniel Sams-like, change-of-pace, run-first quarterback.
K-State doesn't quite have the firepower to hang with TCU. And once again, it struggles to figure out Oklahoma at home. But after two straight losses, the Cats come roaring back.
On Oct. 24, Danzel McDaniel and Dante Barnett take Tyrone Swoopes interceptions back to the house, as K-State rocks Texas in Austin, leaving the house that Snyder built rocking for a Thursday night clash with Baylor. QB Seth Russell can’t beat K-State’s elite secondary over the top, while Delton & Co. keep the game within reach with a methodical, ball-control ground game. Still, the Wildcats trail by nine with 3 minutes remaining, which forces Snyder to finally turn Delton's arm loose. He responds, locating Cody Small streaking down the seam for a touchdown.
The Wildcats go for the onside, and Matthew McCrane's “Rabona” kick discombobulates Baylor. The Cats recover, and after a Delton scramble, McCrane nails a 58-yard field goal for the win. Trolling the Big 12, the crowd doesn’t rush the field. But the party in Aggieville lasts well into the night.
K-State goes on to finish 9-4, setting the stage for a run at the 2016 Big 12 title. Delton is a freshman All-American. Snyder announces plans to become the Big 12’s first octogenarian head coach. Kansas goes 0-12. The Royals win the pennant. Eric Stonestreet takes home another Emmy.
It doesn’t take long for the Wildcats to miss Jake Waters. Quarterback is a disaster out of the gate, with neither Jesse Ertz nor Joe Hubener taking command. Banks is slow to learn the playbook, and Snyder opts to redshirt Delton, foreseeing a wasted season ahead.
The Wildcats labor to a 3-0 start, but it’s about to get ugly. The K-State running game somehow is worse than last season’s, and nobody emerges as a No. 1 receiver. The next two weeks, Mason Rudolph and Trevone Boykin both torch a K-State secondary that never lives up to the billing.
After getting pounded by the Sooners, K-State gets shut out in Austin, then falls 41-6 at home to Baylor. The losing streak runs to seven when Iowa State QB Sam B. Richardson engineers a fourth-quarter rally in Farmageddon.
The Wildcats win their final two games, but finish 5-7 to miss out on a bowl for the first time since 2009.
Delton transfers to McNeese State. Snyder retires. ABC cancels "Modern Family."