November 19, 2006

Cats relive nightmare in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. - For the second time in as many weeks, the Kansas State players and coaches had to navigate past a goal post-hungry mob that celebrated a grand feat. This wasn't what the Wildcats had in mind. One by one, the disbelieving players disappeared into the locker room while purple-clad fans yelled above. "Don't give up!" one man yelled. Had we been here before? Yes, two years ago.

The faraway nightmares had returned. The ghosts of 2004 held open the locker room door. Senior weakside linebacker Brandon Archer, who dubbed the Wildcats' 3-point win over No. 4 Texas one week before as his "personal favorite," recalled the loss to Kansas two years ago, which helped to make the present 39-20 defeat Saturday in front of a Memorial Stadium crowd of 51,821 equally painful.

"The one two years ago, losing that streak, definitely hurt," Archer said. "This was a disappointing loss as well."

How far the Wildcats had climbed with votes in both polls, seven wins and images of the de-crowning of the defending national champs fillinh millions of living rooms.

How hard the Wildcats fell behind a season-high six turnovers by true freshman quarterback Josh Freeman, who days before was named a three-time national player of the week.

The Wildcats insisted all week "letdown" wasn't a term in a dictionary so packed with phrases like "undefeated in November," "consistency," and "championships" - words that described progress and goals to come.

But in fact, the Wildcats authored a lengthy definition for "letdown" that encompassed 60 minutes, the whirlwind of their labors spinning stumbling players into stunning humility onlookers hadn't witnessed since a Big 12-opening 17-3 loss at Baylor.

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