Needing a Victory

For the loser, there's reason to believe there may not be another win this year. For the winner, bowl hopes will stay alive. That's the story line Saturday when Kansas State travels to Texas A&M. Both teams are 0-1 in Big 12 play; neither team has a significant win this year.

Kansas State's 2008 goal remains the same: "We're here to win the Big 12 North," said quarterback Josh Freeman.

"That's been our goal since day-one, and it's still attainable," said the Wildcat junior quarterback. "We're 0-1, but there is no quit in this team."

With that in mind, no one said it more clearly than Freeman heading into Saturday's 1 p.m. kickoff against Texas A&M: "It is definitely a must-win week."

The A&M team K-State will be facing at Kyle Field is the Big 12's worst team in scoring (22.8), stopping the score (30.8), total offense (318) and rushing defense (225). So Freeman is right.

If K-State cannot defeat this A&M team that only has wins over New Mexico and Army, it's reasonable to ask: Who will it beat?

After all, the next four weeks of the season will be at Colorado, Oklahoma, at Kansas and at Missouri.

Still, the Wildcats remain optimistic even though giving up 133 yards and close to 1,700 yards in the last three weeks.

"The thing that provides the most hope for this team is that everybody wants to keep working," said KSU captain Ian Campbell. "Whether people realize it or not, there was effort given on Saturday. The hearts are in the right place, it is just the mind and the attitude cannot be misguided."

Or as coach Ron Prince summed up the 58-28 loss to Texas Tech, "We were a step away from putting significant pressure on their quarterback, but a step is all he (Graham Harrell) needs. We were a step away from making a play on the ball."

But the fact is, K-State is not making plays on the ball. The Wildcats' five forced turnovers is lowest in the Big 12.

To that, Campbell said, "We're just inches away, but we're continually in the wrong spot by just inches. That's the difference in batting down 10 passes, or zero. Unfortunately, we're off by six inches."

During the Prince era, Kansas State has been off by feet and yards when it comes to play on the road. Eleven times K-State has traveled, but only twice have they won, which includes a 38-29 loss at Louisville earlier this year.

To turn that tide, Prince said, "Our focus will be on our improvement. We have to eliminate the turnovers and mental errors that have been destructive."

Prince went on to say of Big 12 play, "Three is a sense of urgency. We haven't proven we can win on the road. We have to do a better job of that."

"The goal this week is to come out 1-0. We know they have a great team and stadium," Freeman said. "We are going to have to bring our A-game to win."

Kansas State has lost the last five games in this series with the last victory coming in 1996 ... in College Station.


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