By Mark Janssen
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder understands the passion that his Wildcat fans have for tonight's game with the Kansas Jayhawks, but he also says of the entirety of the season, "It's about how many hurdles you jump over. It's not a one-hurdle season."
But tonight in KU's Memorial Stadium in a 6:30 p.m. start on Fox Sports Net, it is a one-game season featuring the 4-1 Wildcats against the 2-3 Jayhawks. For each, the goal will be to go 1-0 for the week, and to avoid a second early loss in Big 12 play.
Then, he will tell you, "The one the next week is the most important. We always play it as it was a championship game, but that's the way we want to approach every game we play."
Snyder indicated that he doubted that the winning side tonight will have much of a recruiting advantage over the losing side with Sunflower State players, and his own players verified his comment.
Fullback Braden Wilson, a product of Smith Center, said, "Not really," when asked if the fact that K-State had an 11-game win streak over KU when he was growing up had any factor in his decision to be a Wildcat. "K-State was always my No. 1 choice."
Center Wade Weibert, a native of Hillsboro, echoed, "I was always a K-State fan, so which side won the game had no factor at all."
Quarterback Carson Coffman came from the Missouri side of Kansas City. He said, "Winning this game was never a factor because I was always a K-State fan."
But without question, it is a big one between Sunflower State rivals, who both play in the North Division of the Big 12 Conference.
As Wilson said, "It is a big deal. It always has been for my whole life. I have always been a Wildcat fan, even when I was little. It has been a big game all the way through, so it is important to me."
Coffman added, "I really do not even know who we play next weekend. I am just really focused on KU and trying to be 1-0 this week."
SERIES NOTES: KSU 37, KSU 65, Ties 5
K-State has won six of the last 10 in the series with three of those losses between 2006 and 2008: 39-20, 2006; 30-24, 2007; 52-21, 2008 ... Bill Snyder is 14-4 against the Jayhawks ... KSU's biggest win: 64-0, 2002; KSU's biggest loss: 55-0, 1947
DID YOU KNOW: With its 107-game history, the Kansas State - Kansas rivalry is the 13th oldest in college football history. The oldest rivalry belongs to Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, who has played 119 times, followed by Kansas vs. Missouri with 118 contests.
UPDATING MR. THOMAS: Despite rushing games of 76 and 63 yards in his last two outings, Daniel Thomas' average of 138 yards per game still ranks seventh in the nation and third in the Big 12. QB Carson Coffman has promised that his running back has prepared himself to "run angry" against Kansas. A year ago Thomas ran for 185 yards against the Jayhawks. Thomas remains ninth in school history with 1,956 yards making three Wildcats within his reach in tonight's game: 8th - Eric Gallon, 1,960; 7th - Josh Scobey, 1,981; 6th - Isaac Jackson, 2,182. In a two-year career, Thomas is on pace to rank second only to Darren Sproles (4,979) in career rushing yards. With 8 games of at least 100 yards, only ranking higher in K-State history are Sproles (24), Eric Hickson (10), J.J. Smith (10) and Josh Scobey (9).
BY THE NUMBERS:
• 1 - Despite its mega-loss to Nebraska, K-State still received one vote in this week's Top 25 poll.
• 5 - Kansas has won its last five games in games following a bye week, which it enjoyed last week.
• 8th / 11th - KSU's William Powell ranks eighth in the nation with his 31.5 yard average on kickoff returns. As a team, KSU's average of 28.24 yards ranks 11th.
• 95 / 116 - Neither side has been effective in stopping the run. Kansas ranks 95th in the nation allowing 187 yards, and K-State 116th allowing 246 yards per game.
• 106 / 117 - Kansas ranks 106th in the nation in turnover margin at -1.0 per game, and 117th in the country in fumbles recovered with one.
• 407 - That's the run of consecutive on-target snaps that KSU long snapper Corey Adams has had in his three-plus year career as a Wildcat.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
• WR CHRIS HARPER (No. 3) could very well be getting more passes thrown his way with the season-ending injury to Brodrick Smith. Harper has five catches for 50 yards through the first five games.
• RB DANIEL THOMAS (No. 8) has rushed for just 63 and 76 yards in his last two games, which is well below his season average of 138 yards per game. He has not scored a TD in his last two games.
• LB ALEX HREBEC (No. 56) has become a model of consistency with 49 tackles in five games. He's also broken up four passes.
• RB JAMES SIMS (No. 29) leads Kansas in rushing with an 82-yard per game average and 4.9-yard per carry average. The Jayhawk freshman has scored three TDs.
• WR DAYMOND PATTERSON (No. 15) has caught 28 passes to rank ninth in the Big 12 in per game catches. He averages a modest 9.2 yards per catch and has only one TD.
• LB STEVEN JOHNSON (No. 52) leads the Jayhawks in tackles with 44, plus has three tackles for negative yardage.
• KR D.J. BESHEARS (No. 20) has averaged 33.4 yards per kickoff return.
NEXT WEEK: Kansas State gets another long week as its next game will be on Oct. 23 at Baylor with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff. The game will not be televised. The Wildcats return home on Oct. 30 when they will play Oklahoma State on Homecoming.