With 5:59 remaining in the first half, Kansas State kicker Josh Cherry lined up for a 24-yard field goal. The kick, if successful, would have given the Wildcats a 10-7 lead. The aim, however, was not true. The kick sailed wide; the missed scoring chance ultimately led to seven points for Oklahoma State. The kick did not decide the game, but did represent the day's theme: missed opportunities. The Wildcats failed to capitalize on opportunity after opportunity throughout the day and the Cowboys left Bill Snyder Family Stadium with a 24-14 victory.
"We choked, really," K-State running back Daniel Thomas said. "We just laid an egg."
"The offense did not play well," K-State coach Bill Snyder said. "By the same token, the defense made mistakes that were costly, as well."
The struggles the Wildcats (5-3, 2-3) experienced held a delicate balance. While the Wildcat defense kept the Cowboy offense, which entered Saturday averaging 48 points per game, scoreless on six-of-seven first half possessions and forced two turnovers, the Wildcat offense mustered just one first-half score, as well.
While Oklahoma State (7-1, 3-1) penalties (10 for 100 yards) gave the Wildcats second-chances throughout the game, K-State committed seven of its own, most costing valuable yards on offensive drives. The Wildcats also threw three second-half interceptions while the game was still in-reach and jumped off-side on an onside kick attempt that the Wildcats recovered. "Penalties and turnovers were probably responsible for what we did today in terms of winning and losing," Snyder said.
"We were turning the ball over and committing penalties," Thomas said. "We just killed ourselves out there."
While the Wildcat defense, which had allowed at least 47 points in two of its last three games, kept the nation's No. 2 scoring offense well below their season average, they also missed several tackles in the second half that allowed the Cowboys to extend their drives.
Though the games are won and lost as a team, certain Wildcats felt the burden was theirs. "We had some opportunities to win it as an offense," quarterback Carson Coffman said. "I let the team down. I feel like I didn't play very well today."
"Honestly, I want to put the blame on us," Wildcat wide receiver Aubrey Quarles said. "It wasn't so much what (the Oklahoma State defense) did, it was what we did. Myself, I had a lot of mistakes out there on the field. It cost us."
"The defense did their job," Thomas, who gained 101 yards on 29 carries, said. "We just didn't go out there and perform well as an offense."
Coffman, who exited the game briefly with an ankle injury, completed 23 passes for 170 yards, but also threw two interceptions and was sacked once. He cited "mental mistakes and turnovers" as the main struggles of the Wildcat offense. "It was really frustrating," Quarles said of the offensive difficulties. "We had a couple of opportunities and we just weren't able to get it done today." Quarles led the Wildcats with nine receptions for 59 yards.
The Kansas State defense - a unit that surrendered 47 points and 683 offensive yards just a week ago - lived up to the "bend, but don't break" billing they received early in the season, forcing three punts, two fumbles, and a turnover-on-downs on Oklahoma State's first six drives of the game. Though the Cowboy offense, playing without the suspended Justin Blackmon - the nation's leading receiver - still managed 511 total yards, including 298 through the air, the members of the Wildcat defense felt that improvements had been made in the seven days since losing to Baylor. "Our first half, I think we did real good," linebacker Jarell Childs said. "We just have to finish."
"We held a good offense to 17 points," safety Ty Zimmerman, who led the Wildcats with 12 tackles, said. "I think we did pretty good."
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 298 yards and two scores, while running back Kendall Hunter led the Cowboys on the ground with 143 yards.
Kansas State put numbers on the scoreboard first when William Powell wriggled up the middle of the Oklahoma State defense for an eight-yard score. Powell's score, which came on his only carry of the day, capped a 10-play, 62-yard drive.
The Cowboys responded to the first score of the game in quick fashion, tying the game with a 67-yard drive that took just 72 seconds off the clock. Two plays into the drive, Weeden connected with sophomore Isaiah Anderson for a 40-yard reception,
Oklahoma State grabbed its first lead on the possession after Cherry's missed kick. The Cowboys traveled 80 yards in 11 plays, with a 13-yard strike from Weeden to Josh Cooper giving OSU a 14-7 lead with 5:51 remaining in the third quarter.
The Wildcats, still one win away from bowl eligibility, return to Bill Snyder Family Stadium next Saturday to face Texas. "We're not thinking about the bowl game," Quarles said. "We just want to get the win.
"Saturday will come again."