Pressure can often bring out the best in teams, but sometimes it can bring out the worst. In Kansas State's case, it seemed to bring out the worst.
A little known program, Kansas State has always flown under the radar. That is, until this season when the Wildcats nearly finished the year undefeated before losing to Baylor.
Nobody expected Kansas State to have the season it had, thus there was little pressure on them to perform at a high level. But as the wins continued to come in 2012, the pressure to win and be perfect grew and grew.
People were talking about Collin Klein as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and the Kansas State quarterback was receiving national exposure, the likes of which few quarterbacks in college football have seen. Even head coach Bill Snyder was finally getting the national recognition he deserved.
It seemed that Kansas State was no longer an unknown entity but rather a powerhouse in the sport.
That building of pressure culminated when the Wildcats reached No. 1 in the country and had their sights set on a national championship. However, those dreams were quickly dashed after the Wildcats were smoked by Baylor in the last game of the season, 52-24.
It's been two weeks since that happened, and in that time, Kansas State has fallen out of the collective consciousness of college football fans. The fall from grace was certainly faster than the rise to it, as is normally the case.
But now, Kansas State is back under the radar. There is no more pressure to be perfect, nor is there a surreal amount of attention on the Wildcats. There's no more Heisman Trophy talk or Coach of the Year discussions in Bill Snyder's case.
That should prove to be a huge relief for Kansas State, despite the disappointment of not achieving the ultimate goal of a national title.
Sure, there will be pressure for Kansas State to beat Texas and win the Big 12 title, but that pressure is nothing new for this squad. At this point, the Wildcats are used to expectations, pressure and, most importantly, winning.
The tension in preparing and eventually winning this game will be a drop in the bucket when compared to what the Wildcats were dealing with while national title expectations were on their shoulders. All that's left is execution, and while pressure might have been an excuse before, that argument is no longer valid here.
There's no doubt that will help the Wildcats play more loosely this time around. Granted, the Wildcats would love to still be undefeated, but it's too late now, and there's nothing they can do to change that. All Kansas State can do is control what it can control, and that is to beat Texas and finish the season as strong as it started.
The Kansas State team you saw against Baylor was a team as tight as we've ever seen them. With all the stress of being a national title contender gone, the Wildcats can now get back to playing the same football that got them to 10-0 in the first place.
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