View Wedneday's photo gallery | Watch video recap from Wednesday
By Mark Janssen
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Around 10:30 tonight at University of Phoenix Stadium, an era comes to an end.
It's about that time that No. 7 ... Collin Klein ... will take his final snap as a Kansas State Wildcat.
The hope is that it will come in an unprecedented 12th victory for a single K-State season, and a win that will make Klein the all-time winningest starting Wildcat quarterback with 23 victories.
That would be one more than Michael Bishop and Ell Roberson, who each lost in their final Wildcat game at the 1998 Alamo Bowl and the 2003 (season) Fiesta Bowl, respectively.
"He's been such a great leader for us and one that has created so many plays," said pass game coordinator Del Miller. "You really don't like to put such a load on one person, and we didn't necessarily try to, but so much of our offense came from keeping the ball in his hands."First as a little-recruited quarterback, then moved to a backup receiver, and then back to quarterback where he eventually placed third in the Heisman Trophy voting and won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Klein said, "It's definitely been a journey. It's been a great experience. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am just so blessed that God gave me the opportunity in this place and on this team."
A 'CAT PACK' OF THOUSANDS: The Arizona Diamondback baseball team had purple in its wardrobe at one time, but its home of Chase Field was never more purple-ish than it was Wednesday for the Kansas State pep rally leading into today's Fiesta Bowl.
Sponsored by the K-State Alumni Association, President's Office, KSU Foundation and athletic department, a crowd estimated at 20,000 cheered every K-State word and "wabashed" with the Wildcat cheer squads to the tunes of the K-State Marching Band.
Of the overall campus mood created by the football team, K-State President Kirk Schulz said, "This team has provided so much positive for us. It's hard to find someone associated with K-State, plus prospective incoming students, who doesn't know that we are playing in a major bowl game and will be watching us on television.
"Exposure like this is worth millions and millions of dollars," added Schulz. "People will watch us on TV, feel good about us, and then will get on their laptop or IPAD and search K-State to learn a little bit more about our university. This type of exposure is just incredible."
On hand to support his former school was K-State graduate and award winning actor Eric Stonestreet of "Modern Family."
Of the fan support for the Wildcats, Stonestreet said, "Other schools claim to have the best fans, but we have the facts to prove it. It's not a surprise to see this many people here, and I know they'll show up tomorrow night for our victory. There's no reason Oregon should get a snap count off without being bothered by our fans."
While it's football that brings Stonestreet to such events as bowl games, he said, "I am a fan of this football team. It's an area of interest for me, but I love the basketball team, I love the engineering department, I love the theater department ... I love all aspects of the university. It's where I figured out what I want to do in life and I've been fairly successful. I love telling everyone I can find how great of an institution it is."
Alumni Association President Amy Button Renz said K-State sold an estimated 1,700 travel packages that left Manhattan, Wichita and Kansas City, plus it is believed that game tickets were purchased by Wildcat fans living in over 40 different states.
After the pep rally, an estimated 2,400 fans took part in the "Bowl Bash."
LINE OF THE DAY: The funniest line of the pep rally was delivered by captain Ty Zimmerman, who poked a bit of fun at the colorful collection of uniforms worn by the Oregon Ducks.
"We're going to unveil our new uniforms tomorrow," quipped Zimmerman. "They're going to have a 'Tostitos' patch on the shoulder."
HUBERT ... AN UNSUNG WILDCAT: John Hubert just keeps plugging away for the Wildcats.
Last year the 5-7, 190-pounder pounded out 970 yards on 200 carries with an average of 4.8 yards per carry and a total of three touchdowns.
This year the Waco, Texas, product has 892 yards on 172 carries with a 5.2-yard per carry average and 15 touchdowns.
"We may not have used John quite as much this year because Angelo (Pease) stepped in and shouldered some of the load, but John had another great year for us," said run game coordinator Dana Dimel
With 1,890 all-time yards, Hubert ranks 10th in K-State history. That's just ahead of Corny Davis (1,873) and just in back of Eric Gallon (1,960)
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.
ESPN will handle the telecast with the broadcast team of Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe.
WHAT'S GAME DAY LIKE FOR THE 'CATS?: In preparation for the 7:30 p.m. (central time) kickoff against the Oregon Ducks, K-State's players will have a 10:10 wake-up, followed by a breakfast and team meetings, prior to a team walk.
A 3:20 chapel service will be followed by a 3:40 team meal and a team quiz on the game plan at 4:05 prior to leaving for the stadium at 4:40, which is a 40-minute drive.
Players start stretching on the field at 6:02 - no, not 6:01 or 6:03, but 6:02 - before the team breakdown at 6:40.
Players will be seated and ready for coach Snyder to address the team at 7:16, lights out for meditation at 7:18, the 'Purple Get Ready To Roll' chant at 7:19, and the team hits the field at 7:21.
TODAY'S MESSSAGE: 'BEAT THE OREGON DUCKS!!!!!'