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KEYS TO VICTORY, GAME-DAY ROUTINE, AND MORE

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View Thursday's photo gallery | Watch video recap from Thursday

January 5, 2012

Hi folks:

DALLAS, Texas - Are you ready for some football?
         
Well, this long-awaited day has finally come when No. 8 and 10-2 Kansas State plays No. 6 and 10-2 Arkansas in the 76th Annual AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboy's Stadium.
        
The Wildcat Nation demonstrated that they are stoked for the 7:32 p.m. kickoff yesterday as more than 15,000 fans gathered at the home of the American League baseball champion Texas Rangers for a pep rally AND the surprise announcement of KSU's historic $75 million West Stadium Center project.
         
Even baseball Hall of Famer and Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan was impressed as he called down from his office over the left field wall and asked Rob Matwick, who was handling the field operations for the Rangers, "How many people do you have down there? I thought this was only going to be a small deal."
         
Stadium signs read "K-State Football" and "Pack Dallas with Purple," and that's exactly what the Wildcats did extending down the left field line to the foul pole to taking seats in the upper deck behind home plate. All were entertained by video highlights of the week, plus the superlative plays of the season, not to mention the K-State marching band, cheerleaders and Classy Cats, who together numbered 424 and traveled to Dallas in nine buses.
         
President Kirk Schulz received one of the biggest cheers when he joked about the KU student that told the KSU student during football season, "Yeah, just wait until January (basketball season)." To that, the Wildcat student replied, "Yeah, we'll still be playing football."
          
Highlighting the program was the appearance of the football team and mini-speeches by the team captains.
          
Collin Klein offered, "I knew K-State was special when I got here, but with every day and every game it gets more special. I couldn't be happier and more blessed to be a part of this family."
          
Coach Bill Snyder also talked of family and said in reference to K-State receiving only 12,500 Cotton Bowl tickets, "I knew somehow, some way our people would find a way to get more tickets."
         
The last to speak was former K-State All-American Terence Newman, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
          
Newman said in reference to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his $1.2 billion stadium, "We call it 'Jerry's World' down here, but tomorrow let's make it 'The Wildcats' World."
         
He added, "When Arkansas arrives tomorrow, let them know that they've arrived in Kansas State's territory."
         
The fans cheered and cheered with every word, they Wabashed, and a good time was had by all.
          
WEST STADIUM CENTER: At a press conference following the pep rally, AD John Currie talked of the "belief and vision" of the $75 million West Stadium Center going from "fantasy to reality."
         
On what the facility will mean to the landscape of the northwest corner of the campus, K-State President Kirk Schulz said, "The first impression can be what you look like. That shapes your first impression."
        
He then said the facility will create a "Wow!" factor and an impression of, "Those folks really have something going."
          
WORTH REQUOTING: With the retirement of Joe Paterno at Penn State, and Howard Schnellenberger at Florida Atlantic, K-State's 72-year-old Bill Snyder is now the oldest active coach in college football. To that, he replied, "I'm not only the oldest coach in the world, I might be the oldest person in the world."
          
Texas coach Mack Brown adds of Snyder, "He has tremendous energy for 72 years, and breeds confidence to his team."

FRANK-LY SPEAKING: Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin shakes his head at the coaching job done by Bill Snyder this past fall, saying, "Incredible ... incredible. When they were picked eighth in the preseason, I just laughed. I'm not into predictions, but to pick a Bill Snyder-coached team to finish that low just shows their ignorance. He's an incredible human who has wonderful principles, has honesty and has integrity, and his teams reflect that."

THE TROPHY: Standing three-feet tall and weighing 55 pounds, the Cotton Bowl trophy includes as its base a replica (made of metal and sand carved glass) of the recently completed Cowboy's Stadium in Arlington, Texas.  Two helix arms holding aloft a life size silver metal football, and gives the appearance of a ball in motion spiraling out of the stadium.  Metal parts of the award were silver electroplated.
           
GUNNING FOR No. 11: Only six times in K-State history has a Wildcat team won 11 games in a single season: 1997 - 1-1; 1998 - 11-2; 1999 - 11-1; 2000--11-3; 2002 - 11-2, and 2003 - 11-4.
           
Senior offensive tackle Clyde Aufner admits he has thought about winning 11 in 2011: "I know no team in Kansas State history has won more than 11 games and we're going for our 11th win. We want to win every game, there's not any more added pressure for this one, but we want to win, we want to get to No. 11 because it's our next one. I feel like we might be up there with some of the best teams in Kansas State history. It would be very special to cement our legacy, but that's something to think about after the game."

RED CARPET TREATMENT: K-State President Kirk Schulz and multiple members of the athletic department staff were literally treated to red-carpet treatment on Thursday when they toured the campus and football facility of TCU, a new member to the Big 12 Conference starting next year.
    
TCU is currently in Phase 1 of a $115 million improvement of its football stadium.
    
WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON: Collin Klein enters the game with 1,099 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns. Those figures rank No. 10 and No. 1 in K-State history.
    
With a 100-yard rushing game, he would climb to No. 7 in KSU history only behind three seasons by Darren Sproles, two by Daniel Thomas and one by Josh Scobey.

His 26 touchdowns is one shy of Ricky Williams' Big 12 record set in 1998 and the FBS record held by Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs in 2009.
    
And, there's this. The most rushing yards for a K-State quarterback in a bowl game is ... no, not Michael Bishop, and no, not Ell Roberson. Jonathan Beasley rushed for 98 yards in the 2001 Cotton Bowl.
    
The most total offense yards in a bowl game is 394 set by Michael Bishop in the 1997 Fiesta bowl when he passed for 317 and rushed for 77.
    
K-State has had just four 100-yard rushing games in bowl history: 147 by Josh Scobey in the 2001 Cotton Bowl; 133 by J.J. Smith in the 1993 Copper Bowl; 118 by Darren Sproles in the 2002 Holiday Bowl; and, 103 by Eric Hickson in the 1995 Holiday Bowl.    

FIELD IN PLACE: The Dallas Cowboys own three playing fields - one for the NFL, one for college and a soccer field.

However, the Cotton Bowl and AT&T own all of the five-yard stripes where their personal logos are in place.

SINGING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM: "The Band Perry" will be singing the national anthem Friday night at Cowboys Stadium. The country group is best known for the single "If I Die Young."

HALFTIME: MA Dance and Marching Auxiliaries will provide the halftime show alongside the World Famous Kilgore College Rangerettes!

PRIOR TO KICKOFF: There will be a Samsung AT&T Huddle Up on the outdoor plazas at the Cowboy's Stadium that will include a pep rally atmosphere with interactive games and entertainment by "Emerald City". K-State's section is the Miller Lite Plaza on the east side of the stadium.

The plaza areas open at 3 with the K-State band and spirit squads also taking part.
    
It's been a great week in Dallas with the AT&T Cotton Bowl staff being what they always are ... fantastic. Year in and year out, there's not a better bowl in America.
             
Sorry for the lengthy "postcard," but there was oodles going on today.
    
Cheer hard tonight and enjoy the game,

Mark

P.S. - For those wondering, the K-State team/travel party will return to Manhattan at mid-afternoon Saturday. However, only 20 or so players will be on the charter as the majority will leave Dallas for their respective homes for a short break before the second semester begins in mid-January.