Wildcats likely headed to Holiday Bowl
Nobody was talking about bowl games at Kansas State in
mid-October, when the Wildcats were sitting at 2-4 and feeling
bruised and battered after a loss to Baylor.
Nobody was giving up on the season, either.
So with the kind of steadfast resolve that has become a hallmark
under Bill Snyder, Kansas State flipped the script. The Wildcats
ripped off four straight wins to become bowl eligible, and then
finished off their regular-season with a 31-10 rout of Kansas on
The most likely destination now is the Holiday Bowl, where the
Wildcats are 3-0.
”You know, I’m proud of the fact that they’ve come back,”
Snyder said Saturday, ”that they didn’t give into it and move in a
It could have easily happened.
There was the disheartening loss to North Dakota State on the
same day the school dedicated a massive renovation to the stadium
that bears Snyder’s name. There was the underwhelming performance
at Texas, and the back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and
None of them were by more than 10 points. But not all of them
were close, either.
Yet a team that had to replace nine starters on defense, not to
mention Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein at quarterback,
somehow managed to turn things around. Part of it had to do with
the sagely Snyder, who usually knows how to pull the right strings.
But a big part of it had to do with the simple stubbornness that
comes from a program that’s grown accustomed to success.
”What we can take out of this is we never gave in,” wide
receiver Tyler Lockett said. ”We kept fighting back, fighting
back, regardless of the close games we lost. We came back the next
”We have a great coaching staff,” Lockett added, ”and they
kept believing in us, and that’s all we needed. We just kept
pushing and pushing.”
Now, the trick is to finally end a bowl-game losing streak.
Kansas State has lost all three that it’s played since Snyder
returned from a brief retirement, and five straight going all the
way back to his first tenure. Ron Prince lost the only bowl game he
coached in 2006.
Incidentally, the Wildcats’ last victory was in the 2002 Holiday
”It’s an awesome feeling to be bowl-eligible again, but I
haven’t won one since I’ve been here,” said wide receiver Tramaine
Thompson, a senior. ”I really want to go out with a bang.”
Quarterback Jake Waters, who split time with Daniel Sams most of
the season, said there’s a feeling of confidence as the Wildcats
begin their month-long bowl preparation. They may have lost to
Oklahoma last week, but they rebounded nicely against the
Running back John Hubert ran for a career-high 220 yards, Waters
accounted for three touchdowns and a defense that went through
quite the roller-coaster came up with six turnovers.
”We’re going into our bowl game with a win instead of two
straight losses. That’s huge,” Waters said. ”Then not playing as
well as we want, that’s going to keep us hungry for bowl
Snyder shouldn’t have any problem with hunger.
Even as the marching band played the fight song and hundreds of
Kansas State fans waited to celebrate a win over their rivals on
Saturday, the 74-year-old coach stood in the shadows of the
bleachers in Lawrence and lamented the many close calls of this
Yes, the Wildcats finished 7-5. But the defending Big 12 champs
could have done so much better.
”It’s like it would be for anybody, what you really remember,
you remember the losses,” Snyder said. “And the biggest margin was
10 points. There wasn’t a ballgame we played that we didn’t have
our chances, so that’s the frustrating experience. One of our
players said last night, they asked to define the season in one
word, and one of the players said, `Frustrating.’
”It is, but it doesn’t take away from how much I appreciate the
young people in our program.”
It also doesn’t take away from the way they kept fighting,