Bill Snyder, the 73-year-old relic that has his Kansas State football team now entrenched as the No. 4 team in the country, is probably the only head football coach in the country that coaches in a stadium that bears his name. That’s because he was a genius before he got out of coaching, and before he got back in again.
Anyone who has any knowledge of Kansas State football before Snyder was hired in 1989 knows Sports Illustrated once called K-State the worst team in the country. “Futility U” had a cumulative record of 299-510 in 93 years of misery and, when Snyder’s first team went 1-10, there was rejoicing because the lone win snapped a 27-game losing streak at “the most hapless school in college football.”
The next year the Wildcats went 5-6 and then 7-4 -- that 1991 squad being just the fifth team in 46 years to have a winning record. After that Snyder had only two other losing seasons, winning 11 games in six different years before he “retired” in 2005. It has been called the greatest rebuilding feat in modern-day football and Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer famously said, “He’s not the coach of the year, he’s not the coach of the decade, he’s the coach of the century.”
When he retired in 2005, they named the stadium the Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium but he was soon bored and three years later, when Ron Prince didn’t work out as his replacement, he was named as head coach a second time. Today he’s in his fourth year and has a 30-15 record as K-State hosts No. 15 Texas Tech tomorrow.
For the record, his overall career record is 166-83-1 and – by golly – that’s pretty good at “Futility U.”
That said, here is how I am picking my Top 10 Games in college football tomorrow:
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TENNESSEE (3-4, 0-4 SEC) at No. 17 SOUTH CAROLINA (6-2, 4-2 SEC), 12 Noon (ESPN2) – There is no lack of a story line here as the Vols desperately still seek the first SEC win while Carolina needs to pop back after back-to-back losses. Steve Spurrier was livid after last week’s 44-11 whipping by his alma mater in Gainesville but the reason USC is a 14-point favorite is because the Vols have faltered against Florida, Georgia and Miss. State after showing hints of promise. Discount UT’s 44-13 loss to ‘Bama and Tennessee has a chance to keep it close. Turnovers have beset both teams in losses so the logic is that if UT can contain the ‘Cocks on big plays, they have an outside chance to make it an early thriller. MY PICK? South Carolina, 37-31.
OLE MISS (4-3, 1-2 SEC) at ARKANSAS (3-4, 2-2 SEC), 12:21 a.m. (SEC Network) – This game will be fun to watch because here are two teams playing in Little Rock that are on the rebound. Ole Miss won a big game for coach Hugh Freeze last week, giving him his first SEC victory against hapless Auburn while Arkansas, winning the last two, resumed its fireworks in the 49-7 debacle over Kentucky two weeks ago. The Razorbacks are a 5 ½-point pick, this based on Tyler Wilson’s throwing hand, but Ole Miss needs a win badly before facing a November that includes Georgia, Vandy, LSU and the nemesis, Miss. State. MY PICK? Arkansas, 35-24.
No. 3 FLORIDA (7-0, 6-0 SEC) vs. No. 12 GEORGIA (6-1, 4-1 SEC), 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports) – Florida has gotten better with each game and QB Jeff Driskel is more adept at balancing the offense. The surprise has been the Gator defense – third in the SEC and seventh in the nation – so that’s the big reason the Gators are favored by 6 1/2. Georgia will counter, of course, with stellar QB Aaron Murray, who passed for a career high 427 yards last week, and the two runners, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. If the Dog defense can snap out of the doldrums UGa will win in Jacksonville but it will take a huge effort. MY PICK? Georgia, 34-27.
No. 15 TEXAS TECH (6-1) at No. 4 KANSAS STATE (7-0), 3:30 p.m. (Fox) – Tommy Tuberville’s TTU knows about giant-killing after dismantling a then-unbeaten West Virginia and throttling TCU in overtime last week but Kansas State is a tall order. With KSU playing in front of its rabid home crowd, the Wildcats are a 7 ½ point pick and they’ve got to win here with a stern November schedule that includes Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor. MY PICK? Kansas State, 37-24.
No. 10 SOUTHERN CAL (6-1) at ARIZONA (4-3), 3:30 p.m. (ABC) – Since stumbling to Stanford, USC has won four games by double digits and with QB Matt Barley slipping back into fine form, this is a bad time for first-year coach Rich Rodriguez to welcome the Trojans to Tucson. USC is picked to win by 6 ½ and, after winning nine of the last 10 against the Wildcats, I don’t see the trend about to change. MY PICK? Southern Cal, 32- 21.
No. 9 OHIO STATE (8-0) at PENN STATE (5-2), 5:30 p.m. (ESPN) – What Bill O’Brien has done to keep the Nittany Lions’ heads up is one of the best stories in sports but this could well be the best game in the Big 10 this year. Due to NCAA sanctions neither team can play in the conference championship so suddenly this becomes the “Super Bowl.” Unbeaten OSU is a 1-point underdog due to PSU’s great defense and QB Matt McGloin, who is now the career passing leader in State College. A win here would further soothe the deep scars left by the scandal and would make for a “Happy Valley.” MY PICK? Penn State, 24-21.
No. 5 NOTRE DAME (7-0) at No. 8 OKLAHOMA (5-1), 8:00 p.m. (ABC) – Here’s another unbeaten that is an underdog but Notre Dame knows it hasn’t hammered opponents like the Sooners have this fall. OU’s 63-21 win over Texas in Dallas was downright scary and this game is huge in the BCS race. The Sooners are favored by 10 ½ because QB Landry Jones can get the ball into the end zone in so many ways. Notre Dame has done whatever it took all year – the Irish are due credit – but Oklahoma has more speed, more talent, and hardly ever loses in Norman. MY PICK? Oklahoma, 37-24.
MICHIGAN (5-2) at NEBRASKA (5-2), 8:00 p.m. (ESPN2) – Is it just me or is it puzzling that teams like La. Tech, Ohio, and Rutgers are in the Top 25 while these teams aren’t? Suffice it to say that the winner of this game will be. UM has won the last three after nipping State, 12-10, last week while Nebraska, a 29-28 survivor over Northwestern, has won four of the last five. Nebraska, playing at home, is favored by 3 but this will be a battle with the conference race now in earnest. MY PICK? Nebraska, 24-17.
No. 13 MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-0, 3-0 SEC) at No. 1 ALABAMA (7-0, 4-0 SEC), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) – Nobody is taking State seriously – waiting instead for the Tide to tackle LSU next week – but MSU wizard Dan Mullen doesn’t care. "For our guys, to me, the respect issue comes down to our guys respect themselves, they respect each other," Mullen said. "And that's really the only respect you need in a football team. What people outside our building say about us is their opinion. We have to worry about what we think about each other inside. And I think our guys have a lot of respect for the leaders on our team. And they respect how everybody on the team works, and they respect each other and they respect our program. So they give great effort in those regards because of those things, and that's really all that matters." Nonetheless, Alabama is the best team I have ever seen and is favored by 24 points. MY PICK? Alabama, 37-10.
No. 7 OREGON STATE (6-0) at WASHINGTON (3-4), 10:15 p.m. – The Beavers can go 7-0 for the first time in the school’s history with a win in Seattle but coach Mike Riley is cautious. OSU is a 4-point pick but think about this; UW beat Stanford and played USC hard before losing by 10. "We know they're very talented and very, very capable," Riley warned. "They beat a real good Stanford team and they've kind of played murderer's row,” he said, citing LSU and Oregon as well. MY PICK? Oregon State, 31-15.
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OTHER SEC GAMES THIS WEEK
KENTUCKY (1-7, 0-5 SEC) at MISSOURI (3-4, 0-4 SEC), 12 Noon (ESPNU) – If the adage is true that a team is only as good as its last game, Mizzou folks ought to remember Georgia just beat UK by 5 points. UM has yet to win a first-ever SEC game but the Tigers are picked by 14, this without injured QB James Franklin. Remember that Vandy whipped UM by 4 so you’ll see why a lot of folks are taking the points. MY PICK? Missouri, 24-17.
No. 22 TEXAS A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC) at AUBURN (1-6, 0-5 SEC), 7:00 P.M. (ESPNU) – With “Johnny Football” Manziel playing hot and A&M one game from being bowl eligible, I don’t see any Auburn magic coming to The Plains. The Tigers have floundered badly, the 17-13 loss at Vandy the low point, and the Aggies – after giving up 5 turnovers and losing to LSU by just as many points – should cover the 15-point line with Manziel’s running and passing. MY PICK? Texas A&M, 34-14.
MASSACHUSETTS (0-7) at VANDERBILT (3-4, 2-3 SEC), 7:00 p.m. (FSN) – This is the first year UMass has played big-time football so this one is so lop-sided you have to call Vegas to hear VU is a 34-point favorite. Vandy ain’t never been favored by 34 in the school’s history but when former letterman and noted Chattanooga physician Winston Caine died on Monday, at least he got to see his Commodores throttle Auburn before he went to heaven. MY PICK? Vanderbit, 41-7.
SEC TEAM IDLE THIS WEEK
No. 6 LOUISIANA STATE (7-1, 3-1 SEC) will host Alabama on Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. (CBS Sports)
AND ONE MORE …
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (6-1, 5-1 SoCon) at CHATTANOOGA (4-3, 3-1 SoCon), 6:00 p.m. – Georgia Southern knows what to expect at Finley Stadium tomorrow because they feel UTC is the hottest team in the league right now. “Not only do they have two quarterbacks, but they have a bunch of skill players and a good offensive line. They control the football, don't turn the ball over and they play great defense. They are tops in the league in rushing and scoring defense,” Head Coach Jeff Monken said this week. “The thing that impresses me the most is their production on third downs. They convert third downs, and they stop people on third down and get them off the field.” MY PICK? Chattanooga, 31-25.