Rivalry week

This week is no ordinary week for the Wildcats - it's Jayhawk week. After last year the players say they are looking to set things straight and.....

This week is no ordinary week for the Wildcats - it's Jayhawk week. For a number of years the Sunflower Showdown was rendered nearly obsolete, with the Wildcats dominating, but last season things changed. How is K-State responding with KU coming to Wagner Field on Saturday? Players addressed the issue at Tuesday's press conference.

There's a trophy case in Vanier Football Complex. A case that includes all sorts of items commemorating achievements for the Wildcats football team - it even holds a Big 12 Championship trophy. Yet, something is missing. Something that had been a resident of the case for 11 straight years.

"We've got a trophy case with a void in it," Coach Bill Snyder said on Tuesday. "That's from the Governor's Cup."

"I noticed (the Governor's Cup was gone), I heard about it, and hopefully we're going to get it back this weekend," senior offensive tackle Jeromey Clary said. "The Governor's Cup is probably one of the more valued trophies in that case, and we need to bring it back."

Wildcat players are aware of the missing trophy, but also have another source of motivation for Saturday's match-up - redemption. The Wildcats' 31-28 loss in Lawrence has not been forgotten, and players say that they've been constantly reminded this week.

Sophomore wide receiver Jordy Nelson said that reminders of last season's loss are everywhere, even in the locker room. "Coaches put pictures up in our locker room of KU in their locker room, having the governor in there, giving them the trophy," Nelson said. Reminders can also be seen in the form of posters in coach's offices and on doors of the 31-28 final score. "We know that we're going to have to step up and go get them."

"It's huge," junior running back Thomas Clayton said of the importance of Saturday's game. "It's going to be an emotional game for everybody on this football team."

Not one to stress the importance on game has over another, Snyder did say the game would probably mean more to fans of both schools. "The loss last year certainly accelerates the enthusiasm for this football game," Snyder said.

The Wildcats also feature a number of local players, for whom the game holds special significance. Junior linebacker Maurice Mack, whose hometown is Olathe, said the game means a lot to him. "It's just one of those games where you just want to go out and play," Mack, who chose to attend K-State over KU, said. "Statewide, this is a big, big game for a lot of people. Everybody is going to be pumped and ready to go."

Sophomore safety Marcus Watts said he has friends at KU that remind him of last season. "They still tell me that they hold the belt right now," Watts, whose hometown is Hays, said. "We'll see come Saturday who's holding the belt. Hopefully it's us."

Nelson, a Riley resident, said he knows what the rivalry means to the locals. "We know how much it means to our fans,," Nelson said. "It's and in-state rival, and you never want to lose to your in-state rival."

Nelson said that it doesn't take long for the rivalry to become a big deal for teammates who aren't from the area. "Even the (teammates) from Texas and Florida, after they've been here a couple years, they realize how important it is," Nelson said. "For this whole team, it's going to be a big deal."

The Governor's Cup, the trophy held by the winner of the annual K-State - KU football match-up now resides about 80 miles to the east, in Lawrence. Saturday's game will decide whether the Cup will extend its lease in Lawrence or return to fill the trophy case void in Manhattan.

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