Collin Klein’s message to his team this week was pretty simple.
The senior quarterback stood up in front of his teammates during Monday’s practice with one thing to say.
“At practice last night, Collin said, ‘nobody here has beaten Oklahoma State, nobody in this group has beaten Oklahoma State,’” sophomore receiver Curry Sexton said. “That’s something I think everyone took to heart. That took everyone back, because obviously you want to beat every team and I think that maybe adds some extra incentive to this week.”
The last win over the Cowboys came in 2006 under Ron Prince. Since then, it’s been all Oklahoma State, winning the last three contests, 41-39, 24-14 and last year’s thriller in Stillwater, Okla., 52-45.
On Saturday, the Wildcats — ranked third in the AP and No. 2 in the BCS — will get another shot at the Cowboys when they take on Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. on ABC.
Last season’s loss especially stung the Wildcats (8-0, 5-0) because, not only was it coming on the heels of a blowout loss at home to Oklahoma, but the game came down to three plays and 12 seconds.
Both teams scored four touchdowns inside the final six minutes of the game — two by Oklahoma State and two by K-State.
The Wildcats, however, needed one more.
Trying to answer a 23-yard touchdown run by Cowboys’ running back Joseph Randle with 2:16 left in the game, the Wildcats drove to the OSU 5 where Klein threw an incomplete pass to Tyler Lockett. K-State then called a timeout with 5 seconds left and Klein tossed two more passes, one to Chris Harper and one intended for Tramaine Thompson that both fell incomplete.
The goal-line stand sealed the third-ranked Cowboys’ 52-45 shootout victory over the No. 17 Wildcats at Boone Pickens Stadium.
“I think there were some things we learned from it — a mental approach, an emotional approach,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday. “It was disappointing, tremendously disappointing for our players and our coaches at the time, but I don’t think that dampened or heightened their progress after that ballgame. It’s just part of the deal. Sometimes you’re going to lose ballgames.
“We didn’t like the way it happened and we’ve addressed that. We had an opportunity and we passed on the opportunity and there were lessons to be learned from that — and I think our young guys did.”
Immediately, questions were abound as to the reasoning behind calling a timeout after a pass that stopped the clock and then opting to pass twice, rather than run with Klein on a keeper.
“In hindsight, would I like to have some of the calls back?” Snyder asked following the game. “Of course. We did what we thought was in the best interest from a time standpoint. The ball was in Collin’s hands but being able to run the ball, and I’ve been asked the same question before, and if you’re looking at the same clock that I’m looking at, it wasn’t an opportunity to do that and still get in the three snaps that we got in just because of the amount of time that was on the clock.
“We were in a position where in order to get two shots at the end zone with 5 seconds left, we had to throw the ball. Again, hindsight, would I have run Collin with the ball? Perhaps so.”
Even though it was a loss, and we all know there is no such thing as a moral victory, the game did show the Wildcats something that night in Stillwater.
“I think coming off the Oklahoma loss, we were probably a little unsure where we stood and I think going down there and playing the No. 3 team in the country down to the wire, it showed us we can play with anyone on any given night, especially down into an environment like that,” Sexton said.
“Even though we lost, it may have added to our confidence and showed us that we were one of the best teams in the country and maybe helped us since then.”
The loss has also provided some added motivation going into Saturday’s meeting, because like Klein said, nobody on this roster has ever beaten Oklahoma State.
“That’s a big deal, especially after the heartbreaker last year,” fullback Braden Wilson said. “This is a game we really want — really want. We’re serious about it.”