It's Game Week to These Cats'

MANHATTAN, Kan., -To the fans, it's the game of the season – Kansas State vs. Kansas. But within the Wildcat football family, it's just the next game on the schedule and that's why it's the most important game of the year. While KU is the favorite, the thinking here is there are plenty of reasons K-State can pull the upset.

To the Kansas State fans this is "Kansas Week." In this case, the days that lead to Saturday's 11:30 a.m. kickoff against the University of Kansas in the 2009 Sunflower Showdown.

To the Wildcat faithful, it's a mega-important game because it is Kansas.

But the message Wildcat coach Bill Snyder is delivering this week is this: "We just keep telling them that we, more than anyone else in the conference, control our own destiny. That's really the only dialogue that we have in terms of the success that the near future could possibly hold.

"We put a great deal of emphasis on taking things one day at a time," Snyder continued. Improving in focus, in fundamentals, in attitude no matter the name of the team that serves as the opponent at the end of the week.

"The pressure we feel is to win the game this week," said quarterback Grant Gregory. "You start worrying about what you have to do in the weeks to and then your focus leaves the task at hand."

But sure, coach Snyder and his players know that the Wildcats need two wins in the next three weeks – KU, MU and at NU – in order to become bowl eligible. And, all in Purple and White understand that a 2-1 record the rest of the way will likely be good enough to win at least a share of the Big 12's North Division.

"This is a very important game for us, but every game is important. This is the most important game because it's played this weekend," said Wildcat offensive tackle Nick Stringer.

"It's very important that we play well at home, but all of that starts with practice today (Tuesday) and continues tomorrow."

All of that talk, yet no one … coach Snyder or the Wildcat players … even mention the wordage "Kansas Jayhawks."

So, what will it take to win against Kansas, which would snap a three-game losing streak to the Jayhawks during the Ron Prince/Josh Freeman years.

"It will be a high energy game," said KSU defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald. "But like any game, it will come down to fundamentals. It will come down to executing the Xs and Os."


• The Snyder factor:
Bill Snyder is 13-4 against Kansas and the Wildcats have not lost to Kansas in games played in Manhattan by a Snyder-coached team since his first year in 1989,

• The "M" factor:
K-State has the momentum of a pair of wins in the last three weeks with that third game being one of positives even though losing to Oklahoma. Kansas has zip as far as momentum having lost three straight games. In four Big 12 games, KU has allowed 42, 35, 34 and 36 points.

• The "Return" factor:
KSU leads the Big 12 in kickoff returns at 25.8-yards per return in Big 12 games. Overall, Brandon Banks has returned four kickoffs for touchdowns. With punts, K-State averages 7.9 yards to KU's 1.1, which ranks last in the league.

• The Thomas factor:
Daniel Thomas is averaging 100 yards per game. When Thomas keeps the chains moving, that are seconds/minutes when the ball is not in the hands of KU quarterback Todd Reesing.

• The "Balance" factor:
K-State averages 171 rushing yards and 172 passing yards per Big 12 game. Kansas has a one-dimensional game.

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