By Mark Janssen
Bill Snyder and his Wildcats hope for a different final chapter to an amazingly similar story.
'Cats go on the road; 'Cats play a team's Senior Game; 'Cats play a game with an interim head coach (Mike Canales); and ironically, 'Cats play a team where the quarterback (Riley Dodge) is the son of the ousted head coach (Todd Dodge).
That's the story line in Denton, Texas, today at 3:30 where 6-5 Kansas State concludes regular season play against 3-8 North Texas.
To that record, Snyder has one question: "Why are they 3-8? I really don't know. If you just sat and watched the tape and didn't know the score, you'd say they won by such and such, but that hasn't been the case. You watch tape and don't realize how they could be a 3-8 football team. It's a mystery to me because they have some talented young guys, who run well and are a physical team."
In addition, Snyder will point out, North Texas has a running back in Lance Dunbar who is averaging 116 yards per game, or five more than Daniel Thomas, and, a quarterback in Dodge, who is completing 60 percent of his passes with 10 TDs to only four interceptions.
Under Canales, a former quarterback coach of Jim Leavitt at South Florida, the Mean Green has wins over Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, and losses to Troy and Louisiana-Monroe.
With the Mean Green smarting from a 3-8 record, and K-State being a 3-5 Big 12 team, Wildcat center Wade Weibert said, "It will be a game between two very angry teams."
PSYCH TALK OUT THE WINDOW: For the last two weeks, Snyder has preached this sermon: "Six wins does not guarantee anyone a bowl."
But the fact is, win or lose at North Texas, the Wildcats are in postseason play with what is now a 6-5 record.
That was assured this week when two five-win teams in Texas and Colorado lost this week to Texas A&M and Nebraska, respectively.
That will leave the league with eight qualified teams for the eight bowl games it has contracts with.
The teams are Nebraska, Missouri and K-State from the North, and Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech from the South.
The bowls in order of selection are: BCS-Fiesta, Cotton, Alamo, Insight, Holiday, Texas, Pinstripe and Dallas.
The four most likely bowl possibilities for K-State are: Holiday Bowl, San Diego, Dec. 30; Texas Bowl, Houston, Dec. 29; Pinstripe Bowl, New York City, Dec. 30; and, TicketCity, Dallas, Jan. 1.
KEY TO VICTORY: North Texas is a slow starting team, losing its collective first quarters, 96-47. K-State has won its collective first periods, 51-44.
Kansas State (6-5): KSU 31, UCLA 22; KSU 48, Missouri State 24; KSU 27, Iowa State 20; KSU 17, Central Florida 13; Nebraska 48, KSU 13; KSU 59, Kansas 7; Baylor 47, KSU 42; OSU 24, KSU 14; KSU 39, Texas 14; Missouri 38, KSU 28; Colorado 44, KSU 36
North Texas (3-8): Clemson 35, NT 10; Rice 32, NT 31; Army 24, NT 0; NT 21, Florida Atlantic 17; Louisiana 28, NT 27; Arkansas State 24, NT 19; Florida International 34, NT 10; NT 33, Western Kentucky 6; Troy 41, NT 35; NT 23, Middle Tennessee 17; Louisiana-Monroe 49, NT 37
BY THE NUMBERS: KSU NT
Scoring Offense 32.2 22.4
Scoring Defense 27.4 27.9
Rushing Offense 191 193
Rushing Defense 223 168
Passing Offense 181 174
Passing Defense 217 221
Total Offense 372 389
Fumbles/Lost 19-9 22-8
Penalties/Yd. Avg. 57-41 81-54
SERIES NOTES: KSU 4, NT 1 ... Bill Snyder is 3-0 versus the Mean Green ... the biggest of those wins was Snyder's first as a K-State coach in 1989. The 20-17 victory snapped a 16-game losing streak.
UPDATING MR. THOMAS: Daniel Thomas is averaging 111.45 rushing yards per game to rank third in the Big 12 and 14th in the nation. In 11 games this season, Thomas has cracked the 100-yard barrier six times, but in his last two games has managed only 66 and 56 yards against MU and CU, respectively.
CHASING HISTORY: With his 2,491 career yards, Thomas needs 46 more yards to tie Eric Hickson for third place in KSU history. With his 1,226 yards this year, he ranks sixth and only 37 yards shy of Josh Scobey's 2001 season of 1,263 yards.
Thomas is just 39 yards shy of his 2009 total of 1,265 yards.
QUOTEABLE QUOTE: On playing on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Snyder said, "Do I like it? No, but it was my decision to do it, and graciously North Texas agreed. I felt we needed some space in the season with 12 ballgames. This would not be my preference if you could get an open date within the season and finish before thanksgiving."
BY THE NUMBERS:
1 - Out for the season with an injury, William Powell continues to lead the nation in kickoff returns with a 34.57-yard average.
8 - With a win, K-State will complete an unbeaten non-conference season for the ninth time in the last 14 years.
12 - That's how many senior starters K-State has for the last regular season game of 2010. Offense - Zach Kendall, Wade Weibert, Kenneth Mayfield, Carson Coffman, Daniel Thomas and Aubrey Quarles; Defense - Prizell Brown, Antonio Felder, Terrance Sweeney and Stephen Harrison; Specialists - Corey Adams and Josh Cherry.
12 - Stephen Harrison has broken up 12 passes to rank 16th in the nation.
12-11 - That's Bill Snyder's coaching record since his return - 6-6 in 2009 and 6-5 in 2010.
28-23-21 - That's how many consecutive starts offensive linemen Zach Kendall, Wade Weibert and Kenneth Mayfield have, respectively.
34-of-38 - K-State has scored points on 34 of its 38 trips into the Red Zone. Thirty of those scores have been touchdowns.
175 - KSU has scored in 175 straight games dating back to a 12-0 loss at Colorado in 1996. The streak is the 10th longest in the country.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
• WR AUBREY QUARLES (No. 89) has caught 14 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. He currently leads the team with 46 catches for 676 yards and five TDs.
• DB DAVID GARRETT (No. 27) recorded 16 tackles against CU last week and currently leads the team with 82 tackles.
• DB STEPHEN HARRISON (No. 8) AND DB TERRANCE SWEENEY (No. 16) have 12 and nine passes broken up, respectively. They both also have two interceptions, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.
• RB LANCE DUNBAR averages 116 rushing yards per game with 10 touchdowns. He has also caught 25 passes and two touchdowns
• QB RILEY DODGE averages just 109 passing yards per game. He has completed 60 percent of his passes with 10 TDs to just four interceptions.
• LB C. ROBERTSON leads the team with 117 tackles. He has 9.5 tackles for losses, two quarterback sacks and four passes broken up.
TV: Today's game can be seen live online at ESPN3.
NEXT WEEK: Kansas State will await word on its postseason destination.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at email@example.com, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at firstname.lastname@example.org.