By Mark Janssen
To the victor goes bowl eligibility.
No, a bowl game is not guaranteed to today's winner, but nearly so when a Big 12 Conference team finishes a season at least 6-6, a bowl invitation will be the reward in early-December.
That is what is on the line today at 2:30 when 5-1 Kansas State plays the 5-2 Baylor Bears. Both teams are 2-1 in conference play, which places the Wildcats one-half game out of first place in the North Division, and the Bears one-half game out of first in the South.
Since then have been Wildcat seasons of five, five and six victories in 2009, but two of those were against Division I-AA teams. NCAA rules state that only one such game can be used in becoming bowl eligible.
"That has to be part of the process and part of the direction," coach Bill Snyder said of returning to postseason play. "If you do not get there, it signifies that you are not capable of winning very many ballgames. I think it is part of the progression."
But Snyder, who directed the Wildcats to 11 straight bowl games from 1993 through 2003, has also trained his Wildcats to look at Saturday as another 1-0 weekend.
"I think we are just letting it come when it comes," quarterback Carson Coffman said of reaching the sixth victory of the season. "At the beginning of the season, I thought that we would become bowl eligible, so this is just another game that will help us accomplish that."
With only a few players on the 2010 roster with bowl experience, sophomore fullback Braden Wilson said, "To us, it means a lot because there are only a handful of guys that have been to a bowl game in this program."
Center Wade Weibert said the locker room talk this week was going 1-0 for the weekend, as opposed to becoming bowl eligible. But he did admit that it would be nice to be somewhat assured of postseason play before the calendar rolls over to November.
"We'd like to eliminate the if's, and's or but's, and just go play football," said Weibert. "That has always been the standard at Kansas State. It's always been not if K-State was going (to a bowl), but where."
SERIES NOTES: The series has been brief with K-State holding a 6-1 advantage in the only seven games played between the Wildcats and Baylor Bears. The K-State loss came in 2006 when the Bears shut down the Wildcats, 17-3.
In the seven games played to date, K-State has out-scored Baylor, 278-78.
Bill Snyder is 4-0 against the Bears.
DID YOU KNOW: This will be Baylor's 78th Homecoming game, which dates back to the 1909 season. Baylor is listed as one of five universities that first started staging Homecoming games with the others being Illinois, Northern Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
Bill Snyder-coached K-State teams spoiled the Bears' Homecoming games in 1998 and 2002.
MID-SEASON ALL-AMERICANS: Phil Steele has announced its mid-season All-American and All-Big teams with six Wildcats receiving honors.
Long snapper Corey Adams was named first team All-American, and running back Daniel Thomas earned third team honors.
On the All-Big 12 team were Thomas and kick returner William Powell on the first team, while center Wade Weibert, defensive end Brandon Harold and linebacker Alex Hrebec were third team selections.
UPDATING MR. THOMAS: Daniel Thomas has climbed to No. 7 in all-time KSU rushing yards with 2,047 yards. Next in line with 2,182 yards is Isaac Jackson from 1971-73, while J.J. Smith is No. 5 with 2,210 yards from 1991-94.
Thomas is the second leading rusher in the Big 12 and eighth in the nation with his per-game average of 130.3 yards per game. For an 18-game career, Thomas' average is 113.7 yards per game.
QUOTEABLE QUOTE: KSU linebacker Alex Hrebec has quietly gone about leading the team in tackles for the season with 57, and being the team leader in three individual games, and second in yet another game.
On his linebacker's play, coach Bill Snyder said, "I wouldn't put it on a 1 to 10 scale, but he has been very consistent. He always plays hard and is always into it. He's one of those guys that if he's on the field for 70 snaps, he's going to play all of them the same way."
BY THE NUMBERS:
• 1 - In three home games this season, Baylor has outscored its opponents 122-16 and allowed just one touchdown against Sam Houston State, Buffalo and Kansas.
• 4-0 - Baylor will be playing for its first 4-0 start to a home season since 1994, which is the last year that the Bears attended a bowl game.
• 5 - Baylor's current win total of five is the most by a BU team in the Big 12 era.
• 22 - That's where K-State ranks in the first Bowl Championship Series poll. Also from the Big 12 are No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 11 Missouri, No. 14 Oklahoma State, No. 16 Nebraska and No. 19 Texas.
• 295 - Baylor fullback Kaeron Johnson is 6-1 and 295 pounds.
• 670 - That's how many pounds BU's two defensive tackles weigh in 330 pound Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and 340 pound Phil Taylor.
• 1,969 - That's the number of yards that Robert Griffin III has passed for to lead the Big 12 in total yards through his seven games (every other team has played six games). Griffin's per-game average is 281 yards, which ranks fifth in the league. His 14 TD passes are tied for third high. Griffin also accounts for 54 rushing yards per game with that 335 yards of total offense per game leading the league.
• 42,821 - Baylor ranks 12th in the league in home attendance. K-State's average of 51,059 ranks ninth in the league.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
• QB CARSON COFFMAN (No. 14) will be trying to put together consecutive stellar performances after completing 15-of-16 passes against Kansas and accounting for five touchdowns - three rushing and two passing.
• LB JARELL CHILDS (No. 26) is coming off a 15 tackle performance against Kansas and will be counted on to contain Baylor QB Robert Griffin III.
• PK JOSH CHERRY (No. 19) will need to stay true with his kicks as K-State will need every point it can get against the high-scoring Bears. Cherry is 6-of-6 on field goals this season. His season-long is a 48-yarder.
• QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III (No. 10) ranks first in total offense at 335 yards per game, and fifth in the league in passing with 265 yards per game. He has rushed for six touchdowns and passed for 14.
• BU'S OFFENSIVE LINE averages 313 pounds per man, which includes Robert T. Griffin at 6-6, 330-pounds at right guard. The line is made up of one senior, two juniors and two sophomores.
• H BYRON LANDOR (No. 14) plays a safety-type position and leads the team in tackles with 60, which includes two for negative yardage. He also has an interception, three passes broken up, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
• DE TEVIN ELLIOTT (No. 18) has scored five sacks, plus a total of eight for negative yards. He also has two QB hurries, two passes broken up and one forced fumble.
NEXT WEEK: Kansas State returns home to play Oklahoma State in its 2010 Homecoming game. The game will have an 11 a.m. kickoff and be televised by Fox Sports Net.