A Fiesta for players, fans

Wildcat faithful are ready for kickoff

By The Mercury

We won’t suggest that the Fiesta Bowl is the most pivotal event of the week; after all, a new year began Tuesday — and a half-baked budget bill accompanied it. But today — Jan. 3 — has loomed bigger on local calendars since the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl matchup between K-State and Oregon was announced.

Thousands of fortunate Wildcat fans are in the Phoenix area, and by all appearances, they had a blast at Wednesday’s pep rally. We don’t doubt that they’ll have their batteries fully charged for tonight’s game, which, will begin at 7:30 on ESPN.

The folks back home — we couldn’t all make it — will be watching intently. Some of us will be in sports bars, others will host indoor tailgates and yet others will be planted in front of our own TVs. And we’ll be cheering every good K-State play, groaning at Oregon successes and, of course, practicing our French when the refs don’t see things quite the way we see them. We can’t help ourselves.

Lest the sponsors worry, a great many of us will be ingesting Tostitos and washing them down with the beverage of our choice.

Are we worried that oddsmakers think Oregon will win? Nah! We’re used to that sort of nonsense. Long before the Cats were picked to finish second in tonight’s game, the folks who were supposed to be able to recognize quality picked KSU sixth in the Big 12 Conference. That only made the Wildcats’ conference championship more enjoyable.

We don’t know if K-State will win tonight. Oregon is a formidable foe, one that offers plenty of substance to go with its well publicized style.

But K-State, too, is formidable. We’re confident that Bill Snyder, his staff and the players are prepared, and not just up for the challenge but eager for it. That goes for the fans as well. It’s not unusual for successful teams to have adoring fans. What’s unusual is for teams to have the sort of bond with their fans that the Wildcats have with their faithful.

One of the team’s captains, center B.J. Finney, summed it up superbly at the pep rally in Phoenix: “We believed as a team. You believed as fans, and together we believed as a family. I can’t want to see you (Thursday) night.”

We’ll be watching — and cheering for a Wildcat Victory.

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