SE: Bowl Bound

Following its exciting, 24-23, victory over West Virginia on Saturday evening, K-State football is bowl bound for the sixth consecutive season. 

This year, the Wildcats are headed to Memphis, Tennessee, to face the Arkansas Razorbacks 7-5, 4-3 SEC) for the 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl at The Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium at 2:20 p.m. on January 2. 

“We’re just gracious to have the opportunity to compete in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl,” said K-State head coach Bill Snyder. “I’ve heard nothing but tremendous things, not only about the bowl and the community, but the way the bowl is conducted and the professionalism that exists in providing so much in the way of opportunities for young people to experience new, positive things in their lives. Everybody that I’m aware of, when they’ve played there, they’ve had a good appreciation for it. We are certainly honored to be there.”

It’s been an interesting season for the Wildcats. From start to finish – literally from the first snap to the final play – this year has been a rollercoaster. 

Yet whatever adversity was thrown at this team K-State never backed down. 

“When we talk about Coach Snyder’s goals, you can really see them with this team,” said senior wide receiver and fifth string quarterback Kody Cook. “Goal No. 8 is never give up, and this team never gives up. When something happens, we just keep pushing. It’s always next man up, next guy up. If something bad happens, we get back up. We’re fine. We’ve had our ups, we’ve had our downs, but now we’re back up again going into this bowl game riding on a high.” 

Following a 3-0 start for the Wildcats that included a shutout over South Dakota to start the season and a three overtime thriller against Louisiana Tech, the Wildcats went on to lose six consecutive Big 12 games. It was brutal. In three of those losses, the Wildcats fell by a touchdown or less.

K-State lost its starting quarterback, Jesse Ertz, to injury just three snaps into the first game of the year, and the injuries just continued to pile up from there.  

The team could have thrown in the towel after four, five or six losses in a row. It had been through a lot. 

But that’s not what K-State did. That’s not what Bill Snyder football teams do.

“This is a team of young people that, if they didn’t possess the value system that I’ve talked about all along, they probably wouldn’t have come back and finish the season as they did,” said Snyder about his team’s remarkable 3-0 finish. “It’s a reasonably disciplined football team. I think it’s a tough-minded football team. It’s a group of guys that has the innate ability to be persistent. I’m proud of them for that.” 

K-State snapped its losing streak with a final-minute, 38-35, comeback win over Iowa State, then followed that win with a 45-14 win over Kansas and, finally, last weekend’s victory over West Virginia earned the team bowl eligibility. 

“With our 0-6 stretch in the Big 12, we didn’t know where we were, we didn’t know what our identity was,” said senior offensive lineman Cody Whitehair after Saturday evening’s win. “But we fought through it, we came back and this means a lot to us. We were hearing talk that at 5-7, we could go to a bowl game or we couldn’t go to a bowl game, we didn’t know, but now we feel this has locked us in and now we deserve a bowl game.”

The Liberty Bowl, one of the most historical bowl games in all of college football, will mark the Wildcats 19th bowl game in school history and 17th bowl game under Snyder. The Wildcats’ upcoming trip to Memphis will mark K-State’s first ever appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. 

“For our fans, one of the great things about this matchup is the relatively close proximity to each school,” said K-State Athletics Director John Currie. “It’s not too far away for our fans; even though we’re spread across the country, it’s about a nine-hour drive from Manhattan and a seven-hour drive from Kansas City. I know it’s close to Fayetteville as well, so we’re excited. We respect Coach (Bret) Bielema a great deal – he was part of a Big 12 Championship team here a number of years ago. It will be a great, classic college football matchup.”
  
K-State’s seating allotment for the game includes a total of 8,000 tickets.  All fans who placed a pre-order will receive the number of tickets that were requested. The K-State Athletics Ticket Office will work over the next week to assign specific seats based on the athletic department priority points and mail pre-ordered tickets. Detailed information regarding bowl ticket order fulfillment has been emailed to fans who placed a pre-order.  
Public tickets for K-State fans who did not place a pre-order are available now at the K-State Online Ticket Office and through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum or via phone at 1-800-221-CATS between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., on Sunday and beginning again at 8:30 a.m., on Monday. Fans are strongly encouraged to order through K-State’s official allotment to ensure that all Wildcat fans are seated in the official K-State sections of the stadium. The location for K-State’s ticket allotment at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl is among the best of any bowl game with prime sideline seating locations available for $85.
  
Student tickets, priced at $85, will go on sale at 2 p.m., Wednesday to ICAT members, while all remaining students can purchase tickets beginning Thursday at 8:30 a.m.The K-State Alumni Association will also provide official travel packages to the bowl game. Visit the Alumni Association’s official bowl travel page - http://k-statesportstours.com – for travel package information.
 

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