K-State is set for a return trip to Phoenix for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Michigan. Yes, it’s one of those bowls that, unless you’re playing in it, no one cares about---but it’s always intriguing to play a great traditional program like Michigan. The Wolverines started the season 5-0, but finished it 2-5. The finish is a little misleading as four of those five losses came by an average of just over two points. The Wolverines are far more efficient in the passing game than they are the run and in Devin Gardner start a quarterback who wears the number 98.
Much will be made of the ‘Cats five bowl losing streak—the last time they won in a bowl was the 2002 Holiday against Arizona State and they didn’t lead in that one until there was about 1:15 left in the game. Ell Roberson, Terence Newman and Darren Sproles were the mainstays on that team, a team that won the Big 12 Championship the very next season.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Oklahoma State was clearly better than OU this season and had them at home. A Big 12 title and a BCS berth hung in the balance and once again the Cowboys couldn’t rise to the moment. It’s amazing how the Sooners continue to hold OSU down, even as many were signaling a change in the pecking order. What was most interesting to me was Blake Bell being the one to rally the Sooners. The Bishop Carroll product has clearly sunk to number three on the depth chart, but after injury and ineffectiveness before him it came down to Bell being asked to run the best two-minute drill of his life. That he delivered was sweet vindication in an uneven season.
Bell is a team guy and, as such, will always do what’s best for his guys. But with one year of eligibility remaining and Trevor Knight finally making the impact that was expected of him—one wonders about Blake’s future in Norman. Can a young man with professional aspirations afford to sit patiently waiting his turn again next year, or does he transfer to a program where he can play right away? It’s an interesting quandary, especially in the aftermath of a performance that was described in a from page headline as “Un-Bell-ievable”.
OU and OSU land in two of the more intriguing post season matchups with the Sooners facing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl ( a chance for OU head coach Bob Stoops to back up some of his questioning of the SEC). Meanwhile, the Cowboys get Mizzou in the Cotton Bowl—plenty of players on both teams have faced each other with the Tigers just two years removed from the Big 12.
As much as I’ve railed against it, I’ve got to admit that, more times than not, the BCS has gotten the National Championship right. It’s hard to argue either Florida State or Auburn, in fact, it’s the game that everyone wants to see.
The ‘Hawks lose for the second time in as many weeks and they may drop a few more with the gauntlet of a schedule they’ll run in the next few weeks. Bill Self forecasted the type of difficulty they had in Boulder last weekend, but it’s nothing that a little seasoning won’t take care of. When this team gets to the point that they just play, instead of thinking about how to play (sometime in January) they could be frightful.
If, as he did against ORU, Gregg Marshall could get 31 points and 18 rebounds from his three big men every night—Wichita State would be nearly unbeatable. As it is they’re 9-0 with Tennessee next on the docket, just as it was a year ago when WSU went to Knoxville and lost.
Now the Vols come into Wichita and that’s worth a high five for Cuonzo Martin. The former Missouri State head coach knows how hard it is to schedule for the top non-BCS programs, he also knows how hard it is to win in Wichita, yet here he comes. Something tells me you wouldn’t see that from a Bruce Weber who coached at Southern Illinois and Illinois before he landed at K-State, or even Mark Turgeon, the former Shocker who’s now at Maryland.
No one complained more about how tough it was to find people to come to Wichita than Turg, but you can bet he’d never come back here. Perspectives change when you get in one of the power conferences, self-preservation becomes even more compelling when you’re making a few million dollars, I’m just glad it hasn’t clouded the view of Cuonzo Martin.