Game Of The Year For KSU

Never before in KSU history would a seventh win in a season be so sweet. That's what the Wildcats need Saturday at Nebraska in a 6:45 p.m. kickoff on ESPN to keep their season alive. Going in, NU is 4-2 and 7-3, while KSU is 4-3 and 6-5. The winning team wins the Big 12 North and a trip to the league's championship game. A loss for K-State would end its season.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder says, "It's like any game. You try to reduce the mistakes and eliminate as many as you can. It boils down to discipline and this team is still learning about that particular value."

But this game Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., is not like any other game. For K-State, it's a game for the Big 12 North title, it's a game for the right to play in the Big 12 Championship game, and it's a game that would make the Wildcats bowl eligible.

That's with a victory.

With a loss, it would be a disappointing 6-6 ending to the 2009 season.

Offensive guard Zach Kendall says, "It would be foolish to say we're going to forget about everything on the line, but what we want to do is have it fuel the fire. We want to get that fire and anger back that we had going into KU and take it to Lincoln."

Center Wade Weibert added, "Sure, there's pressure, but I'm sure coach Snyder will keep us grounded."

Just 11 games into coaching this particular K-State team, Snyder said, "I'm just getting to know these young guys so I'm not always precise as to what their feelings and emotions are. You want them to take the game seriously and understand what's on the line, but not to the extent of them being uptight in a way that it affects their performance."

Nebraska has quietly put together a 7-3 season by playing with excellence on the defensive end, and just scoring enough points on offense.

• In only three games this season has Nebraska given up more than two touchdowns in one game and only once have they given up more than 17 points (31 to Texas Tech).

• In home games, NU is allowing just 9.1 points per game. They've allowed 55 total points on their home turf with 31 of those coming from Texas Tech.

• For Big 12 games only, Nebraska's rush defense allows just 2.5 yards per running attempt and has given up just four ground TDs and 81 yards per game. K-State will counter with a rushing offense that nets 4.4 yards per rush, has scored 14 TDs in Big 12 play, and averages 176 yards per game.

• Nebraska has allowed just 36 second-half points in its combined 10 games, or, just 3.6 points per second half. In six games, the Big Red has not allowed a second-half touchdown, which includes against Oklahoma.

"They run well. They are aggressive. They are very skilled and their coaches get them in the right positions to make plays," said Snyder. "They are one of the best defenses in the country right now. All those numbers don't happen unless they are good across the board. They don't have a position on the field that you could consider a weak point."

Along with those in Red and White uniforms, NU's Memorial Stadium can also be a distraction with its 89,000 Big Red fans.

To that, Snyder says, "If they're paying attention to all that red stuff, then they're not paying attention to the stuff that goes on the green field. They need to focus on the task at hand. We had done a better, better and better job of that, and then next week we took a nose dive."

That, the players promise, will not happen today.

As Kendall summarized, "We're going to Lincoln to win. I'm tired of spending Christmas at home watching all the other teams play."


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