It’s a game that could have cemented the Big 12 as a worthy conference to have multiple teams vying for the College Football Playoff. It certainly could have fended off any chance of a Big Ten squad getting into the mix and essentially creating the Power Four conferences for the rest of the year. Instead, Kansas State will have to look at all the possibilities of what could have been during a 20-14 loss to fifth-ranked Auburn.
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Momentum shifted furiously in the first minutes of the game. Kansas State was driving and reached the red zone after Auburn put up the first three points on the board. A ball passed perfectly to Tyler Lockett went right through his hands and into a Tigers. It was the second turnover by the Wildcats and the second of many miscues by the team all night long.
Outside of the turnovers, there were a few other big keys to the game that led to Auburn fleeing from Little Manhattan with what felt like a stolen victory. Kansas State missed three field goals, leaving nine crucial points on a field that didn’t score many. Auburn at one point converted 9-of-15 3rd downs, meaning that they were able stay on the field despite the Wildcats having a smash mouth defensive that was delivering hits all night.
Auburn was held to 55 yards in the first half, but that didn’t matter because their defense made huge plays and the running game broke through a little bit in the second half. But that was still impressive by the team in purple to stop the best-ranked rushing attack in the nation.
Despite all the miscues, Kansas State’s defense really shined in the loss. Considering how Iowa State did against the Wildcats, the Cyclones should be patting themselves on the back. This offense could be pretty exciting in the Big 12.
However, going back to KSU-Auburn, there are no moral victories. The Wildcats can’t get a victory and keep the Big 12 from getting any top 25 non-conference victories. On the flip side, the Tigers definitely have the biggest card this season going into the CFP table. However, they’ll have to play quite a bit better if they want to make it to the postseason with that daunting of an SEC slate ahead.