If Kansas State fans are looking for new “Texas State Champ” shirts this season, it all starts Saturday night under the lights in Austin, Texas.
K-State has won five straight in the series — including a 42-24 victory last season to clinch the Big 12 title and send the Wildcats to the Fiesta Bowl.
“Last year was last year, and the dynamics are so different every year,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said during the Wildcats’ weekly press conference on Tuesday. “What you did in the past has no bearing on the future. It’s still a game at a time, a snap at a time.”
The Circumstances really are different this season as the Wildcats get the Longhorns to open Big 12 play having won two straight games to rebound from an upsetting loss to North Dakota State to open the season.
Texas, like K-State, enters the game unranked after losing two straight to BYU and Ole Miss, perhaps contributing to the lack of shine on this season’s matchup.
Not so fast, say the Wildcats. This is still Texas, no matter what’s happened the past two weeks.
“These guys are working hard just like we are,” K-State center B.J. Finney said. “They’re getting their books corrected just like we are. They have great athletes… so I expect to have a really good opponent on the field when we go down Saturday. These guys are working hard, they always do, and they have motivation. They’re angry.”
Without a doubt, both teams still have something to prove — starting Saturday night at 7 in a game televised nationally on ABC.
For quarterback Daniel Sams, nothing is quite as big as getting Texas (1-2) to open conference play, literally.
“I tweeted about playing in front of 100,000-plus and that’s the situation I thrive for — to be in that type of environment,” he said. “This is what we worked for ever since camp and running those sprints. It’s opening conference, so what gets better than that?”
Other than opening with the Longhorns, Finney said this week is important because K-State (2-1) can wipe the slate clean and start fresh — still with another Big 12 title on the line.
“We’re always amped up when we start conference play — it always means a little more,” he said. “Every game gets a little more important from here on out.”
For the Wildcats, Saturday marks the beginning of a challenging two-game road trip south — separated with a bye week in between — and finishing up at Oklahoma State on Oct. 5.
Snyder said he hopes the beginning of Big 12 play pushes his team more to improve more. On Monday, Snyder the Wildcats’ improvement has been very gradual with their victories over Louisiana and UMass and that he still wants to see more urgency in correcting the kind of mistakes that cost K-State in Week 1.
“I think our youngsters are anxious to get started in conference play,” he said. “We have to be careful and don’t get caught up on who we are playing. Instead, we need to focus on ourselves. We continue to try to improve and address correcting the mistakes that we’ve made — and there are a plethora of those that have to get corrected. We just have to keep working at it.
“I hope our players’ focus is there going into the ballgame.”
Snyder supports Brown
The angry whispers among Longhorns fans the last couple seasons involving longtime football coach Mack Brown are getting louder and louder as Texas rides a two-game losing streak into this Saturday’s games.
Snyder said he spoke with Brown this past weekend and that he has no doubt the Longhorns coach will get things turned around this season.
“I can’t tell you what he is going through, but I can tell you that he is a very talented and quality leader and very good with young people,” Snyder said. “His background and history speak for itself. I know when they don’t have the success that they want it’s painful for him, as it is for anybody.
“He cares about his players, and he hurts for them as well. He’s established himself — I don’t think anybody in their right mind doubts that… We’ve all been through it one time or another, and he will work his way out of it.”