The K-State football team would like nothing more than to win this Saturday's matchup with the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder, Colo., to become bowl eligible now and not have to wait until next week to try and get the sixth win..
The alternative: Win one of two remaining games that include a home game against the No. 4-ranked Texas Longhorns and the season-finale for the Governor's Cup against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Here's how I predict the game will shape out.
Player of the Game on offense: Running back James Johnson
Wide receiver Jermaine Moriera has been ruled out for this contest, and that means that quarterback Josh Freeman will be without his No. 1 receiver for the second straight week. I expect coach Ron Prince to put more emphasis on the running game, and Johnson will have a big game because of it.
Player of the Game on defense: Defensive end Ian Campbell
He continues to make plays, and I expect him to get to Buffalo quarterback Bernard Jackson at least two times in this game. He is second in the conference in sacks, and look for him to get closer to the top of that list.
Surprise contributor: Wide receiver Yamon Figurs
I'm not really sure why I chose Figurs, but I just have a feeling that he's due.
Player you shouldn't expect too much out of: Quarterback Josh Freeman
Freeman got his first passing touchdown last week, but it was to fullback John McCardle on a two-yard dump off. Freeman isn't quite there yet, and I expect him to struggle because of his youth and inexperience as he makes his second Big 12 Conference road start of his career.
Three keys to a Wildcat victory:
Learn how to win the road – The last time the Wildcats won a road conference game was in 2004 against Missouri. The last time K-State won a road game period was in 2005 against Marshall. The Wildcats just do not bring ‘it' when they have to travel, and they will need to find it if they expect to win this one.
Freeman needs to limit mistakes – As a freshman quarterback, it's only natural that he is going to struggle, and that is even more likely on the road. But in order for the Wildcats to have a chance, he will need to minimize the mistakes. He is going to throw one or two interceptions, and those errors must come at times that don't cripple K-State like deep in its own territory or right when the team is close to scoring.
Run the football – Colorado is second in the Big 12 in stopping the run this season. K-State will need to break through for at least 150 yards rushing to have any chance. Getting yards and first downs by running the ball will keep the clock moving and give K-State more opportunities to score.
Final Score: KSU 10, CU 20
I refuse to pick K-State to win a road game until the team proves that it can actually win a game on the road. There is just something that happens when the Wildcats travel, and it's not good (see Baylor and Missouri games earlier this year).
The last time these two teams met in Boulder, the game came down to the final play. It probably won't be that close, but expect a hard-fought battle from both squads as the Wildcats look to become bowl eligible and the Buffaloes look to dash their postseason hopes.