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By Mark Janssen
PHOENIX, Ariz. - September 15, 2009: Louisiana 17, Kansas State 15.
It was on that day, and against that team, and by that score, that Braden Wilson was introduced to losing.
"Honestly, it didn't hit me that hard," said the Wildcat fullback. "It was just on to the next game."
In Wilson's prep career at Smith Center (Kan.) High School that he was a part of 54 victories and 0 losses.
Yes, that's zero ... as in 0 ... losses.
"We lost a game when I was in seventh grade," said Wilson, who was on the Redmen team that once scored 72 points in the first quarter of a game for a national record, and was the stud running back who accounted for 1,807 yards on just 112 rushing attempts, plus scored 29 touchdowns, and, was part of the defense that didn't allow a point through the first 11 games of the season and allowed just 20 (840-20) in a 14-game season. "The next loss came on Sept. 15, 2008. It really didn't sink in for a while that I had been on a team that lost a game."
Wilson is now heading into the final game as a Wildcat with a K-State record of 34-16. In the last two seasons that mark is 21-4, with a Big 12 Championship and a conference record of 15-3.
While not compiling huge numbers himself - 21 all-time rushes for 44 yards and two touchdowns, plus 18 receptions for 144 yards - it's been Wilson's blocking from his fullback position that allowed Collin Klein to finish third in the Heisman Trophy balloting, and for John Hubert to have rushed for nearly 1,900 yards in the last two years.
"My top goal is to win the game. It's not in accumulating statistics," said Wilson. "I've just never been big on numbers other than wins and losses. When we're winning, all is good."
"He is such an asset to our offense," said Klein. "Every day he demonstrates that ability to sacrifice and make blocks for others. He just makes huge holes."
And, coach Bill Snyder marvels of his four-year starting fullback, "I just love the way he practices and works. He knows just one speed."
When Wilson lines up against Oregon Thursday in the 7:30 p.m. (central time) kickoff, it will mark his 51st and final Wildcat game.
"That hasn't hit me yet," said Wilson.
But what has hit him is that he knows he's lived a four-year dream.
"I grew up such a K-State fan and had the hometown hero as my favorite player," Wilson said of Mark Simoneau, another graduate of the stellar Smith Center Redmen program. "This really is living a dream. I started as a freshman when this wasn't that much of a fun place to be (6-6 and 7-6 his first two years, to experiencing this high of the last two years (10-3 and 11-1)."
At 6-3 ½ , 255 pounds and with 4.81 40-speed, Wilson, who has also shown the ability to play defensive end for the Wildcats in 2010 and 2011, says, "I hear that I might get a chance at the next level. I sure hope so."
Co-Offensive Coordinator Dana Dimel says of Wilson's NFL chances, "I think he can be the first fullback taken in the NFL Draft. Now, how high will a fullback be taken? I don't know about that. But I do know that he can block, he can run and he catches it well. Everyone is using two backs in the NFL, so there's a big place for him."
SNYDER NO. 1 COACH: For the fifth time in his career, Kansas State's Bill Snyder has been named national coach of the year as the legendary head coach has earned the prestigious 2012 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award.
The annual Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year presented by the Chick-fil-A Bowl winner is determined by a vote from all previous winners of the award, plus a vote from a blue-ribbon panel made up from the "who's who" in college football.
"The entire K-State family congratulates Coach Snyder on being named the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year," said Athletics Director John Currie. "What makes this award even more special is its focus on character and academic excellence, in addition to a team's success on the field, and Coach Snyder is the epitome of those values."
PSYCHOLOGY 101: No one is better than coaches in the use of psychology to motivate a player.
Run game coordinator Dana Dimel told the story of getting to tight end Travis Tannahill during the Oklahoma State game.
"Travis is a super intellectual, as well as being a great player," Dimel said. "He was struggling a bit in the Oklahoma State game, so I just said, 'The problem is that the defensive end is just smarter than you are.' I knew that was the way to get right at him. (Laughing) That hurt him worse than anything else I could tell him."
A BLIZZARD ... IN ARIZONA? Don't tell K-State's Pat Bosco that it can't happen. Several car loads of K-Staters went to the Grand Canyon in the northern part of the state over the weekend with Bosco and his wife being stranded in Flagstaff for the night due to the Interstate being closed because of a blizzard.
ARIZONA-BASED BOWL GAMES have seen the Wildcats go 2-2. The wins came in the 1993 Copper Bowl over Wyoming and the 1997 Fiesta Bowl over Syracuse. The losses came in the 2001 Insight.com Bowl to Syracuse, and the 2004 Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State.
FIESTA BOWL TROPHY: Designing the trophy was Molina Fine Jeweler. There is a compass on the base and then figures of players holding up the trophy.
The curtain above the players is inscribed with the ancient Greek word "NIKE," the Goddess of Victory. The lotus flower-designed dome identifies the purity of strength, power and heart of the victors.
The football that tops the trophy is 18-karat gold with the enameled Fiesta Bowl logo and 38.6 karats of diamonds encrusting the football.
The piece stands 46 inches tall and weighs approximately 200 pounds.
IN THE FIESTA RECORD BOOK: Darnell McDonald still holds the most receiving yards in Fiesta Bowl history with 206 and the most TDs with three. Ell Roberson ranks second in passing attempts for a single game with 51.
UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX STADIUM: will be the site for the 7:30 p.m. (central time) game, which is located in Glendale.
It's a natural grass facility with the Tiffany 419 Bermuda hybrid measuring six-tenths of an inch tall making for a very fast surface. The playing surface is on a 12-million pound tray that can be rolled outdoors in the sunlight when not in use.
There will be one million watts of lighting in the stadium that measures 233 feet from the playing field to the top of the roof, or around 19 stories high.
The stadium has 63,000 permanent seats, but for the Fiesta Bowl will seat 73,000. The 2011 BCS National Championship game attracted 78,603 fans, which was the largest crowd in stadium history.
The stadium is the home of the NFL Arizona Cardinals.
NICE WEATHER GUARANTEED: The last eight Fiesta Bowls have been played with the roof closed and a stadium temperature of between 62- and 71-degrees.
ON TAP WEDNESDAY: With Purple having invaded the Scottsdale community, the players have a 10 a.m. wake up Wednesday, followed by a team lunch and then a walk-around at the stadium.
Chase Field, home of the baseball Arizona Diamondbacks, then takes center stage for the K-State pep rally at 2 p.m.
Position meetings will then take up much of the rest of the afternoon, followed by a team dinner and movie before lights out at 11 p.m.