A share of the 2011 Big 12 championship, a possible berth in the Cotton Bowl, or even the Sugar Bowl.
That’s what’s on the line Saturday morning at 11:30 when Kansas State concludes regular season play at Bill Snyder Family Stadium against Iowa State.
While players and fans may be excited about adding another trophy to the Wildcats’ lineup of hardware, coach Snyder looks at it slightly differently: “You want to achieve all that you can achieve that is significant to your program. It’s not the piece of stuff (trophy), but it’s what it represents that’s important.”
What’s important Saturday is for the 9-2 and No. 16 ranked Wildcats not to look past the 6-5 Cyclones. Afterall, it’s an ISU team that two weeks ago stunned No. 2 ranked Oklahoma State, 37-31 in 2 OTs, and played Oklahoma last week to a 26-6 game.
“Our whole goal this season was to take one team at a time and not overlook anybody, and I think that we have done that fairly well. Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, they played Oklahoma tough,” said KSU defensive end Jordan Voelker.
“So they are a good team, they have proven that. There really is not anything to overlook because they are a good team.”
K-State’s rush game has the opportunity to shine as its 193 yard-per-game average ranks 30th in the nation, while ISU’s rush defense allows 194 yards per game, which ranks 98th nationally.
All other comparative statistics would tend to favor the Wildcats:
• Scoring – KSU 33.4, ISU 23.5
• Scoring Defense – KSU 28.3, ISU 29.5
• Total Defense – KSU 76th nationally, ISU 102nd nationally
• Turnover Margin – KSU 7th nationally, ISU 99th nationally
Still, Snyder says, “They play extremely hard. They play very sound football. They had some turnovers in that (Oklahoma) ballgame, but normally they are a pretty secure football team.
They do not give up defensively an awful lot. They do not put themselves in jeopardy on offense. They are very sound, secure in the kicking game. I think fundamentally, they are a good football team. They finish ballgames. At no particular point of time in the course of a ballgame, regardless of what has taken place, do they not play as hard as they can.”
Now, Snyder needs K-State’s offense to improve from its last outing of eight first downs and 121 total yards in a 17-13 victory over Texas.
“There are no excuses. You understand what the issues were and how they were created, and they have gone to work to try and rectify that. That is the way it is supposed to be,” said Snyder, who has a personal 15-4 record against the Cyclones. “It tells you that they have that mental toughness and the perseverance to overcome adversity when it takes place and they are attempting to do it.”
Snyder defines the senior class of 2011 as one that is “… well invested into Kansas State football and obviously based on the numbers, they’ve made improvement through their time here.”
This senior class has gone from five wins, to six, to seven and now nine (and counting) heading into Saturday’s Senior Day contest.
“I just want to leave a good impression with the fans,” said Voelker, who will be one of 22 Wildcat seniors making their final appearance before the home fans. “They have treated me so well and have been here to support us the whole year. I just want to give them a good showing by playing the best I can.”
On the consistent improvement, Voelker said, “We really have been able to keep putting the parts together that were needed for us to get better each year.”
Looking up to that senior class have been young players like B.J. Finney, KSU’s freshman center.
In a word, Finney said of his group of elders, “I would say family. They are all one tight group. They are all after a good season this year, and they all have kept us together by reminding us that no matter what the challenge is, we have to stick together and we will get through it. They are just a great bunch of guys.”