Now that Kansas State knows it’s headed to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to face Michigan, the Wildcats’ focus turns to actually winning the game.
(Kansas State’s Tramaine Thompson (left) runs ahead of a TCU defender during a game on Nov. 16 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats head into the bowl season hoping to break a losing trend and win their first bowl since 2002).
The Dec. 28 game in Tempe, Ariz., will be K-State’s fourth straight bowl game since Bill Snyder returned to the sidelines five years ago and another opportunity to snap a long bowl winless drought that started more than 10 years ago.
“It’s obvious that one of my many failings is that I don’t have the answer (for the bowl losses),” Snyder said. “It could be a multitude of things, and perhaps it is, or maybe it’s something simple that I’m overlooking. Number one, I think we’ve played tremendously talented football teams. Sometimes, I think, just the depth segment of it catches up with you, but that should be an accurate assessment for most teams, not just ourselves. The bottom line is, I really don’t know.”
K-State’s last bowl win came against Arizona State in the 2002 Holiday Bowl. Since then, it’s been nothing but losses in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl, 2006 Texas Bowl (under Ron Prince), 2010 Pinstripe Bowl, 2012 Cotton Bowl and then last season again in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon.
“Nobody on our team has won a bowl game, with the exception of the coaches,” K-State junior linebacker Jonathan Truman said. “We need it. We want it really bad.”
The Wildcats appear to be somewhat evenly matched with the Wolverines of the Big Ten Conference. Michigan enters the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl — which kicks off on Dec. 28 at 9:15 p.m. (CST) on ESPN — with the same overall record of 7-5. But the Wolverines struggled during the second half of the season by losing five of their last seven games.
If K-State has anything going for it this time around, it’s that the Wildcats ended the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the Big 12. K-State turned its awful 2-4 start to the season around by winning five of its last six games — the only loss to coming at home in a close game to Sugar Bowl-bound Oklahoma.
There’s no doubt that K-State has the motivation to end this season the right way — with a win in Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium.
(K-State quarterback Jake Waters throws a pass against Lousiana in a game on Sept. 7 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium).
“This is really important for them,” Snyder said, “because in their tenure here, they haven’t been successful in the last game of the season, or the bowl games that they’ve participated in. I think it really is significant to them.”
K-State junior defensive end Ryan Mueller is tired of starting spring practice coming off a bowl loss. And he wants to be the one to pour the Gatorade cooler on Coach Snyder following a bowl victory.
“I’m tired of that after-the-game feeling of we can’t make Coach happy at the end of the season,” Mueller said. “This next bowl game is going to lead to another opportunity. Hopefully after the game we can celebrate a victory.
“I want to end the season on a positive note and feel what that locker room feels like, versus losing a bowl game and the other team celebrating and pouring Gatorade on their coach and wearing those championship hats. I want to pour Gatorade on Coach Snyder. It would be great.”