A big week for the Wildcats

By Walt Braun

The first week of the new year promises to be both a busy and exciting one for fans of Kansas State University athletics.

It starts Wednesday afternoon when the Texas A&M women’s basketball team comes to Bramlage Coliseum as a Big 12 member for the last time. Both KSU, 9-3, and Texas A&M are good, but the Aggies, a top 10 team with a 9-2 record, have grabbed more attention so far this season. A Wildcat victory would be the fifth in a row for KSU in conference-openers. The game against will tip off at 5:30 p.m., a little earlier than usual.

That’s because the KSU men happen to be playing an important game of their own at Wednesday —  7 p.m. in Lawrence. The men, 11-1, have climbed into the top 25 and open conference play against KU in Allen Field House. A road victory over the Jayhawks, who at 10-3 are good but not great this year, would be the first in Lawrence for Coach Frank Martin. It also would give the Wildcats a head start on a conference slate that features Missouri and Baylor as the next two opponents.

As much attention as the basketball games deserve, the biggest show for K-State fans this week will take place Friday evening in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex.

That’s when the Wildcat football team, 10-2, will take on Arkansas, also 10-2, in the Cotton Bowl. Arkansas is No. 6 in the final BCS rankings and K-State is No. 8. Yes, K-State could make a strong case that it deserved a BCS bowl, but as KSU coaches have doubtless reminded their players, focusing on what might or should have happened will only distract their attention from their worthy adversaries.

Arkansas is favored by about a touchdown. That might matter to some teams, but the Wildcats have thrived as underdogs this year. K-State also has mastered close games, with eight of the Wildcats’ 10 victories this season coming by a touchdown or less.

The Wildcat faithful, who have waited several years for a big bowl game, promise to build on their enviable bowl reputation and descend on Dallas and environs by the thousands. The Cotton Bowl should be a treat for all involved.

Indeed, for fans of KSU athletics, that could be said about the entire week.

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