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November 8, 2012
Comparisons run deep between Kansas State, TCU programs
Kansas State is 9-0, ranked second in the country and coming off a 44-30 win over Oklahoma State.
In one month, its quarterback could be accepting the Heisman Trophy. In two months, it could be playing for a BCS title.
But Gary Patterson noticed something in Bill Snyder's team long before the Wildcats started their run through the Big 12 that has them poised for the school's best season in at least a decade.
Patterson said he saw it all at the conference media day in July.
"I came back and told my staff and Mark (Cohen), K-state and their players have a purpose, and they're on a mission," Patterson said Wednesday after the Horned Frogs' practice. "I said people better get ready for them."
Few teams have been.
Last week's win followed victories over Texas Tech at home and West Virginia on the road. Earlier in the year, the Wildcats handed Oklahoma a 24-19 loss, the Sooners' third loss at home under Bob Stoops. The only other team to play them close was Iowa State in Ames, but even against the Cyclones, KSU led the entire second half.
"K-State players were (at Big 12 Media Days) for a reason," Patterson said. "They weren't there to socialize. They weren't there to be with the media. They were there for one reason: Get this over with so we can get back to two-a-days and go about our business. And that's exactly the way they've played all season."
Led by a veteran quarterback in Collin Klein and powered by the best defense in the Big 12, KSU, at least this week, elicits memories of the 2010 TCU team, which won the Rose Bowl and finished 13-0.
The lines between the two squads are easy to draw.
Two seasons ago, the Horned Frogs were led by Andy Dalton, the fifth-year senior, who, like Klein, possessed the intangibles of a winning quarterback. They were fueled by a defense that allowed 12.6 points a game and a rushing game that averaged 247.1 yards a game.
Snyder's 2012 squad is physical, ranking fifth nationally in scoring offense despite having a passing game ranked 82nd in the country. The Wildcats have turned the ball over just four times.
But the connections and similarities between the two teams go back further than 2010. There is a program-deep comparison to make between the Frogs and Wildcats.
Patterson played at KSU in the early 1980s, just as the program was starting to crawl out of the hole of ineptitude that had plagued its entire existence. The Wildcats' first bowl appearance ever was in 1982, Patterson's senior season.
Six years later, Snyder was hired, inheriting a team that at the time had lost 27 games in a row and a program that had compiled a 299-510 record in 93 years of play. By 1993, Snyder had his team in a bowl game, and by 1998, ten years after Sports Illustrated dubbed KSU 'Futility U,' the Wildcats pulled off an 11-0 regular season record before losing in the Big 12 title game.
While not as extreme, Patterson helped revitalize TCU in a similar way, taking the program to a level of national prominence seen only once in its history. And that was during the FDR administration.
Naturally, comparisons between Patterson and Snyder, both meticulous in nature, abound.
Patterson admitted it Wednesday. He is a control freak.
"But I'm not having a punt return meeting at 10:30 at night," he said with a grin, referring to the story Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema, a former KSU assistant, told once of his time under Snyder.
Still, Patterson said he realizes the similar impacts Snyder and him have had on their respective programs.
"We both had to take places that you had to do it differently because nobody else had been able to do it," Patterson said. "Ours was 1938. Kansas State's was never. Ever."