Playing for Pride

Playing for pride is not what an athlete wants to do. That term comes with playing in a game with absolutely nothing on the line, which is exactly where Kansas State and Iowa State find themselves entering this final week of the 2008 season.

"We've been eliminated from bowl contention, so obviously we're devastated," said Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman.

In all honesty, it's been pretty much a devastating season for both sides in this one featuring 1-6, 4-7 Kansas State, and 0-7, 2-9 Iowa State.

It's a Wildcat team that has lost five in a row by an average of 20 points, and has given up 207 points in the last four games. It's a Cyclone team that has dropped nine straight, and has not won since Sept. 6, against Kent State.

The other victory came over South Dakota State. ISU has allowed 188 points in the last four games.

"It's going to be a game of who wants it most," Freeman said. "The teams are comprised of a lot of competitive people. Everyone will be working as hard as they can to get it done. It's the last time to strap on a K-State uniform for some of these guys, so we want to make it memorable for them."

A total of 20 senior Wildcats will be introduced prior to kickoff, which includes at least 11 part-time starters: Alesana Alesana (OL), Brett Alstatt (TE), Brandon Balkcom (DT), Jordan Bedore (OL), Ian Campbell (DE), Ray Cheatham (DB), Penisini Liu (OL), Ernie Pierce (WR), Brooks Rossman (K), Gerard Spexarth (OL) and Reggie Walker (LB).

Whether starters or reserves, those from the prep ranks or those who came via junior colleges, coach Ron Prince said, "These guys were pivotal in trying to put this together."

Perhaps Freeman summed up this 2008 season when he accidentally fumbled this final line about this year's senior class: "We want to go out and send our seniors out on a 'bad' note ... I mean a 'good' note."

Of the rest of the team, Freeman said, "The last game is the one you think about the entire year. The Rutgers game (Texas Bowl) was the one we remembered most from our freshman year, and the Fresno game ... that's the game we dwelled on the rest of the year last year. This would be a good start in building for the future."

With the Wildcats having lost 11 of their last 15 starts dating back to last season, senior wide receiver Ernie Pierce said, "It would be nice for us (seniors) to end with a win, and for the young kids to start a culture of winning."

The statistics of this game explain why the teams are a combined 6-16.

Out of 119 Division I football teams, K-State is No. 114 (466) and I-State No. 108 (451) in total defense; KSU is No. 110 (36.4) in scoring defense and ISU No. 108 (35.6); KSU is No. 114 (222) and ISU No. 89 in rushing defense (276); KSU is No. 97 (243) and ISU No. 115 (276) in pass defense; and, in rushing, KSU is No. 80 (129) and ISU No. 70 (136).

"This is a very hard league to win in, and they, like us, have to find some dynamic playmakers on both sides of the ball," Prince said. "That is where they have come up a little bit short, and so have we."

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