Bowl Bound | K-State Football Heads South

The No. 11 Wildcats (9-3, 7-2 Big 12) are set to take on No. 14 UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) on Friday at 5:45 p.m., in San Antonio's Alamodome. While the team has been preparing for the matchup since the game was announced on Dec. 7, this week of preparation is completely unique.
It's bowl week, and that means the team will spend the next six days together preparing, practicing, bonding and having fun away from home.
"The best thing about bowl week is just finding different ways for the guys to have fun," said senior center B.J. Finney. "Finding ways to have fun at practices; getting fired up with the guys. The long preparation, if you let it get to you, things can go south pretty quick. So we have to stay on top of it and find ways to keep everybody in a good mood. We do that by having fun."
Balancing work and fun, along with the K-State Pep Rally taking place on Thursday at 3:15 p.m., at Freeman Coliseum, the Wildcats are set to attend a Team Day at Sea World on Monday and spend the week together enjoying the attractions of sunny San Antonio.
Though the days will be enjoyable, the team is focused on and serious about its preparation, and the Wildcats know, at the end of every day, they are all working toward the same goal. 
"I just can't wait to get there," said junior safety Dante Barnett. "The environment during bowl prep is always great. We usually have nice weather - given the fact that we were in Arizona the past two years and now we'll be in San Antonio - so that makes practice a little easier. It's fun to be in a new environment with the team, but though the whole week is pretty fun, the closer you get to the game, then it's all about business and all about us going out and getting a win."
The only top-15 bowl matchup outside of the College Football Playoff Bowls (the New Year's Six), Friday evening's matchup between the Wildcats and the Bruins will be among the most exciting ones this bowl season.   
"They are a real physical team," said senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett. "We have watched film on them, and we watched them play against Stanford. They probably have some of the best athletes in the Pac-12, and it is easy for us to see that. We're going to have to do our best to go in there with a winning philosophy."
Entering the game with one of the most productive offenses in the country, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw for 3,019 yards and 21 touchdowns this year while completing 70.4 percent of his 368 passes thrown with just five interceptions. Balanced in the air and on the ground, running back Paul Perkins has accumulated 1,381 rushing yards this season with seven touchdowns. 
"From an offensive standpoint, we see an awful lot of option type, zone read type, zone plays and the quick attachments that people just raise up and throw the ball outside," said head coach Bill Snyder. "Hundley does that a lot and quite well, but they are kind of a big-play type of offense. They have made a living off of big plays in a variety of ways."
Much like a majority of the Big 12 opponents K-State has faced this season, UCLA's defense is just as sound as its offense and is led by All-American and 2014 Butkus Award Winner Eric Kendricks at linebacker. Kendricks enters the game with 139 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and has three interceptions this season. 
"They are probably a mixture of a lot of teams within the conference, but I think, defensively, they might be a little bit like us," explained Snyder when asked about the UCLA defensive unit. "Now when they do things, or the nuances, they have some that are unique to their environment, to their program, so they are a little bit different from game to game, but when you put a collective package together, certainly there are things that we have seen before."
Overall, the series between K-State and UCLA is tied, 1-1, with the most recent game taking place in Manhattan in 2010 where K-State defeated the Bruins, 31-22. In 2009, K-State traveled to Pasadena, California, and lost, 23-9. 
With an exciting week ahead for the Wildcats, K-State is ready to compete in its final game of the 2014 season.
"(The Alamo Bowl) presents a great opportunity to capitalize on a 10-win season instead of a nine-win season," said senior defensive end Ryan Mueller, "There is a big difference between ending the season with a 9-4 record rather than a 10-3 season. That is certainly on our mind."
For everything you need to know about this week's bowl game and preparation, check out the K-State Bowl Headquarters by clicking here

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