SE: Wildcats Prepared for Final Task

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – K-State fans have flooded Memphis with purple, and after ringing in the New Year on the famous Beale Street and celebrating at yesterday’s Wildcat Pep Rally, they’re ready to cheer loud and proud at this afternoon’s 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

Earlier this week, the Liberty Bowl announced that today’s game, where K-State (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) will take on Arkansas (7-5, 5-3 SEC) at 2:20 p.m., in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, is a sell out. 

The crowd, which will be filled with purple, will be rocking. 

“It’s going to be exciting to see the stands full,” said Wildcat quarterback Joe Hubener. “We know K-State fans always travel well and with it being close proximity for Arkansas, I’m sure they’ll pack the stands too. It’s going to be great.”

K-State enters today’s game with momentum on its side. The Wildcats turned a season many thought would wind up a lost cause into a wild ride. Despite suffering a six-game losing streak to begin Big 12 play, K-State finished the year with three wins, earned its place in the Liberty Bowl and is carrying that winning mentality into today’s matchup. 

“I think the key element to me was the approach of our players,” said Snyder when asked what went into the season turnaround. “We have a set of intrinsic values that we talk about – the 16 Goals for Success – and they were invested in those values. They did not give in at any point in time. They continued to come to practice; they continued to work extremely hard. They were committed to improving and turning things around and eventually it took place.”

Like Snyder mentioned, it was evident his team took took the 16 Goals for Success to heart. The team used those goals to turn around their season and honed in on Goal No. 10 – Never Give Up.

“Who would have thought we’d be at a bowl game with where we were at midseason?” said sophomore kicker Matthew McCrane earlier this week. “It just goes to show what kind of team this is: we might not have the most talent, but we’re going to fight and we’re going to fight until the end. We fought our way to this game, and our goal is to keep fighting.”

And that’s exactly what the Cats did… they fought. K-State never backed down and posted one of the biggest comebacks in school history to beat Iowa State, 38-35. The Wildcats then won at Kansas and returned home to close out the regular season with a 24-23 comeback win over West Virginia. 
“We had that back-against-the-wall mentality,” said linebacker Will Davis on K-State’s ability to turn around the season. “We had to do it on our own. We had been saying it for a while during the season, but really when it came down to it and it was win or go home for us, we were really able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and sneak some wins out of it.” 

While it was nice to finish strong and earn bowl eligibility, turning the season around meant a lot more than just that to this year’s group of Wildcats. The team learned lessons through this season that they will carry with them, not only on the football field today, but throughout their lives as well.

“I think I’ve learned the most about myself through this season; I’ve learned more this year than I had any other season I’ve been here,” said senior defensive tackle Travis Britz. “This season has really taught me perseverance and the resilience it takes to be successful. We have that never-give-up attitude, and that’s something I cherish because we’ve been able to overcome adversity.”

This week has been filled with preparation – Snyder said this week’s practices have been among the best practices all season – and that preparation will be put to the test today. 

But if there is one thing you can count on from the Wildcats this afternoon, it’s that they’re ready to fight.

A win today would make this 2015 season K-State’s sixth-consecutive winning campaign and would level the playing field with the Razorbacks as Arkansas leads the all-time series, 3-2. 

“We’ve finished with a winning season for the last five years, and we haven’t accomplished that goal this year yet,” continued Britz. “We’re .500 now, we could easily be less than .500, but we’re not looking to do that. This trip is supposed to be fun for us, and it has been, it’s supposed to be an enjoyment because of what we have accomplished, but we’re not done yet.”

The comeback isn’t completed just yet. 
For more information on today’s Liberty Bowl, you can visit K-State Athletics’ Bowl HQ webpage by clicking here.  


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