Holiday Bowl wants the Wildcats

K-State faces a potential matchup with Stanford, Arizona State or Oregon

By The Mercury

The only way Kansas State doesn’t play in the Holiday Bowl is if the Big 12 somehow lands two teams in the BCS bowls.

A lot could happen between now and Sunday when the bowl matchups are officially announced, but the Holiday Bowl plans to take the Wildcats if they’re still on the table.

“The only scenario I could see affect our selection is if the Big 12 sent two teams to the BCS, and I just don’t see that happening,” Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said during a phone interview Wednesday. “In talking with other bowls, I think Kansas State will be sitting there waiting for us to take them.”

K-State is 3-0 in the Holiday Bowl, which will be played Monday, Dec. 30 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The Wildcats defeated Colorado State, 54-21, in 1995, Washington, 24-20, in 1999 and Arizona State, 34-27, in 2002, which just happens to be K-State’s last bowl win.

Coach Bill Snyder and former quarterback Brian Kavanagh are both in the Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame. Kavanagh was the winning quarterback in 1995 when he was 18-of-24 passing for 243 yards and four touchdowns, earning him game MVP honors.

Choosing K-State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) for the weekend in San Diego seems like an easy decision right now. After all, the Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 after winning five of six to end the season. Knowing how Wildcat fans travel for bowl games, it’s also worth noting that the K-State women’s basketball team will be in San Diego that same weekend for a tournament and the Kansas City Chiefs are playing the Chargers on that Sunday.

“Between the Chiefs game, their women’s basketball team playing here and our game on that Monday, we think there could be a lot of purple in San Diego — that’s what we want to see,” Binkowski said.

Picking the Pac-12 half of the game is proving to be much more difficult. It’s likely going to be No. 11 Arizona State, No. 7 Stanford or No. 12 Oregon. Yes, those same Ducks who defeated K-State a year ago in the Fiesta Bowl.

Arizona State (10-2) and Stanford (10-2) will play in the Pac-12 championship on Saturday — the winner going on to the Rose Bowl. The Alamo Bowl will get the No. 2 selection of the Pac-12 and Holiday gets the third choice. Binkowski doesn’t see the Alamo Bowl not taking Oregon (10-2) if the Ducks are available, leaving the loser of the Pac-12 title game for the Holiday Bowl. But again, anything can happen.

“If Arizona State beats Stanford and the Alamo Bowl decided that it wants to take Stanford — instead of Oregon — then we’d have a choice between Oregon and UCLA,” Binkowski said. “We had UCLA last year and we really like to stay away from repeat teams.”

The Big is also a bit of a mess going into the final week. If No. 6 Oklahoma State beats No. 18 Oklahoma and No. 9 Baylor beats No. 23 Texas, then the Cowboys are the Big 12 champs and headed to the Fiesta Bowl. In that scenario, Baylor would have a shot at a BCS at-large selection, assuming Bowling Green upsets No. 16 Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game.

If the Big 12 got two teams into the BCS, it would move K-State up to No. 4 in the pecking order and likely put the Wildcats into the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28 in Tempe, Ariz. That would land Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.

If Texas beats Baylor, no matter what happens between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, K-State would be on the table for the Holiday Bowl.

“We’re locked in with Kansas State,” Binkowski said. “Kansas State’s an appealing team. The first half of the year to what they did in the second half — winning five of their last six games — that’s pretty good.

“All indications are that K-State will be there and if they are, we plan on grabbing them.”

The official bowl selection show will air on ESPN beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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