A Must Win? - YES!

It's early … only the first game of the 2009 Big 12 season for Kansas State, but indeed, it is a must win for the Wildcats when they play Iowa State Saturday in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium. Remember, K-State needs to get to seven victories to be bowl-eligible. What does this game mean in the Grand Scheme?..Read On

Let's be realistic … Kansas State is a game behind where most thought it would be four games into the 2009 football year. That loss at Louisiana (Lafayette) … that one was unexpected. Losing to UCLA on the road was understandable.

But Louisiana? Louisiana Lafayette? That one was inexcusable and could end up being the deciding game as to whether K-State goes bowling, or not.

Here are the rules.

• Teams must have at least a .500 record to be bowl-eligible, which means a 6-6 record.

• Teams can count only one NCAA Division I-AA victory each year, which means the Wildcats must reach seven wins because of playing both UMass and Tennessee Tech.

To the postseason subject, coach Bill Snyder said during Tuesday's press conference, "We haven't said a word about postseason. If you ask the players what we talk about, it's today." The players agreed, but...

"We know we have to win seven (games) to be bowl eligible," said reserve running back Keithen Valentine. "We're trying to win every game we play, but we're talking about one at a time. There's a sense of urgency to win every game. Everyone wants to go to a bowl game, but we're focusing on each game."

Let's set the table:

• K-State is 2-2 meaning it must go 5-3 in Big 12 play to reach seven victories.

• Those games, in order, are against 3-1 Iowa State, 2-2 Texas Tech, 3-0 Texas A&M, 1-2 Colorado, 3-1 Oklahoma, 4-0 Kansas, 4-0 Missouri and 3-1 Nebraska.

• Of those, ISU is at a neutral site, TT, OU and NU are on the road, while A&M, CU, KU and MU will be at home.

Realistically, any of the three road games will be a stretch to win, which means the Wildcats must sweep its four home dates, plus win Saturday in Kansas City.

"We can't look at it that way," said sophomore Tysyn Hartman of needing five wins. "We have to look at each week and try to go 1-0."

Hartman is correct, but certainly with the knowledge if the wins don't come early in the Big 12 schedule, he knows that the last four games of the year are against teams that are currently 14-2.

Do you want additional challenging news?

Kansas State and Iowa State are the only teams in the Big 12 that will play 12 games in a span of 12 weeks.

While a product of the 11-game season during his first tour of duty with K-State, Snyder did coach in 12-game seasons in 2000 and 2003, plus went as high as 15 games in '03 with the Big 12 title game and bowl game.

But he reminds, "In each of those years we had an open date. Playing 12 games back-to-back without an open date is difficult. And it is doubly difficult when you're thinned out and don't have depth. This is a hard schedule." Hard in every aspect with two non-conference road games, four of the first six games played outside of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and finishing against four teams that will most certainly be in bowl games.

For the record, to go bowling, Kansas State needs to win now, and often.

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