Wildcat First Down: Reality Derek Larson December 8, 2014 Features, Wildcat First Down Mondays at The Salute The post was going to be about facing reality. That the 2014 K-State football was good, but flawed. That, ultimately, this squad made the most of its talent and that a few glaring holes on the roster, combined with a few key injuries, made this a team that – while talented – was not championship caliber. Then the field for the inaugural College Football Playoff (CFP) was announced. Suddenly, reality is so much more. Reality: Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Florida State will compete for this season’s college football championship. TCU and Baylor, the co-champions of the Big 12, will watch the playoffs from afar, instead settling for New Year’s Day bowl games. Reality: Entering Saturday, TCU ranked third in the CFP rankings. Alas, the were knocked out of the top four because of Saturday’s effort, which saw them sneak past Iowa State by a narrow 52-point margin and gain a meager 722 total offensive yards… Wait, what? Reality: TCU’s only loss this season came at the hand (err, paws?) of the Baylor Bears. Baylor also entered Saturday in the CFP conversation, but apparently toppling No. 9 K-State and earning a share of the conference championship was not much of a resume-builder. Reality: Ohio State earned it’s spot in the CFP thanks to making the Wisconsin Badgers look like they had never seen a football field during Saturday’s Big 10 Championship. They won 59-0. That, combined with the program’s history, combined with the compelling replacing-the-injured-star-quarterback-with-a-freshman-who-becomes-a-star storyline makes them a pick that the CFP committee obviously could not ignore. Not like they ignored the fact that the Buckeyes lost on their home field to Virginia Tech (who finished the season 6-6) in September. And the fact that the Big 10 ranks fifth out of the Power Five conferences on RealTimeRPI.com. Reality: Any decision the CFP committee made was going to make an inordinate number of people angry. I was attempting to imagine how absurdly angry I’d be if K-State had been in TCU’s position, and I think I blacked out for a little bit. The strange part of this narrative, however, is that – as a fan of a Big 12 school – I kind of expected the conference to get the shaft. It’s easy to get caught up in names like Ohio State and Florida State, because of things like history and Heisman Trophies. it’s easy to ignore names like TCU and Baylor because of things like “It’s not Texas” and “we know they’re IN Texas, but where?” Essentially, the CFP takes the problem from the old BCS system, and just stretches it out slightly. The BCS Championship game selected two teams, leaving those that weren’t selected to complain. The CFP selects four teams and gets the same complaints from those left out. Reality: I’d like to see the CFP expand to an eight-team field, which would guarantee the champions from each of the Power Five conferences a spot in the tournament field, along with three wild card schools.Would that system be perfect? No, because selections of wild card teams would be under just as much scrutiny as the selections we have seen this year. Reality: This is a K-State blog, and I should ditch this national scope and get back to focusing on the Wildcats. Reality: I have made a lot of incorrect predictions in my life, and the 2014-15 Wildcat basketball team is threatening to add another to my list. I saw the talent coming in and the talent returning and imagined a squad that could compete for a conference title and advance to the Sweet Sixteen. It’s early, but with the way the Wildcats have played thus far, making the NCAA Tournament might be an accomplishment. The defense has yet to really show itself, and when Marcus Foster isn’t in “bananas”-mode, the offense can be nonexistent. There’s a lot of season left, and I feel like this squad can turn things around, but thus far, my optimism has seemed somewhat misguided. Reality: On the gridiron, K-State misses John Hubert and Daniel Sams more than I thought they would. I entered this season thinking that K-State could plug in Demarcus Robinson or Charles Jones at running back and they would not lose much traction in the running game. I was wrong. Hubert and Sams combined for over 1,800 yards rushing last season. This year, the entire Wildcat roster combined is about 100 yards short of that mark. You can cite plenty of reasons. Holes are lacking. Robinson and Jones lack the explosion of their predecessors. The wildcat formation is entirely too predictable when there’s absolutely no threat of a pass. Whatever you want to point to, Snyder offenses have always been at their best with strong running threats. Very clearly, that was missing this season. Reality: Injuries took their toll on this K-State team. When Dylan Schellenberg went down with a leg injury on Saturday, K-State moved on to its third option at his safety spot. (Travis Green went down in the middle of the season.) With Schellenberg out, confusion reigned and the Wildcats were later toasted on a play where the defense was out of position. Along with Schellenberg and Green, Travis Britz, who had emerged as a legitimate force on the Wildcat defensive line this season, was out for Saturday’s game, resulting in much less push up front. Reality: Looking ahead to next season, there are plenty of holes to fill. Jake Waters at quarterback. Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton at wide receiver. Zach Trujillo at tight end. BJ Finney in the middle of the offensive line. Ryan Mueller, Jonathan Truman, Dakorey Johnson, and Randall Evans on defense. It’s enough to keep a fan awake at night. Reality: This may not have been a championship-caliber team. There won’t be highlight videos backed by Right Said Fred led soundtracks or t-shirts featuring images of a trophy. It has, however, been a successful team, and one that’s been a heck of a lot of fun to watch. From Lockett’s records to messing with Texas, the 2014 Wildcats have clearly been the third-best team in the Big 12, and in a conference with two teams that could have been playing in the College Football Playoff, that’s not too shabby. Reality: For the sake of my mental well-being, I’ve decided to convince myself that the actual CFP selections were a practical joke. Funny, you guys!