No. 7/5 Kansas State opens football season in BCA Classic

2003 BCA Classic

No. 7/5 Kansas State (0-0) vs. California (0-0)

Saturday, Aug. 23, 2003

6:47 p.m. (Central)/ESPN

Arrowhead Stadium (79,451/grass)

Kansas City, Mo.


Kickoff: 6:47 p.m. (Central)


Television: Live nationally by ESPN. Ron Franklin will call the action with Mike Gottfried providing the analysis. Adrian Karsten will serve as the broadcast's sideline reporter. The producer is Bill Bonnell.


Radio: Live across the 28-station Mid America Sports Network. Wyatt Thompson (color), Stan Weber (play-by-play) and Chris Allison (sideline) serve as the on-air talent.


On the Web: A live audio stream of all Kansas State football games is available via the Internet at K-State's official site,


Records: The BCA Classic is the season opener for both clubs. Kansas State finished 2002 with an 11-2 mark, while California posted a 7-5 ledger.


Rankings: Kansas State enters the contest ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 and No. 5 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. California is not ranked but did receive two votes in the preseason Coaches poll.


Series: Saturday's game is the first meeting on the gridiron between Kansas State and California.


Coaches: Kansas State's Bill Snyder, enters the 2003 season with a 116-51-1 (.693) record in 14 seasons with the Wildcats. Jeff Tedford is in his second season at California. He compiled a 7-5 (.583) mark during his inaugural campaign with the Golden Bears.


No. 7/5 Cats open season in KC

The No. 7/5 Kansas State Wildcats open their 108th season of college football on Saturday, Aug. 23, vs. the California Golden Bears in the Black Coaches Association (BCA) Classic. The game, which kicks off at 6:47 p.m. will be played at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium. ESPN will be on hand to telecast the game nationally with Ron Franklin calling the action and Mike Gottfried providing the color analysis. Adrian Karsten will serve as the sideline reporter.


The BCA Classic will be the first of five non-conference contests for Kansas State. Following the game vs. California, the Wildcats will return to KSU Stadium for four non-conference home tilts before opening Big 12 Conference play on Oct. 4 at Texas. In all, K-State will play a school-record 13 regular season games, including eight at home. The eight home games equals last year's total, when K-State went 7-1 at home, for the most in school history.


Kansas State returns seven starters on offense and five on defense to go along with three specialists off a brilliant 2002 team that went from unranked in the preseason to within eight points of an undefeated campaign. K-State finished the year with an 11-2 record (6-2, 2nd Big 12 North) and a No. 7/6 national ranking. The Cats also became one of just seven teams in the nation to appear in a bowl game in each of the last 10 years as Kansas State defeated Arizona State, 34-27, in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.


The 11-win season was K-State's fifth in the last six years, joining Florida State (1996-2000) and Nebraska (1993-97) as the only programs in the nation to accomplish that feat in the history of college football.


Along the way, Kansas State set or tied 45 different school records, including the mark for rushing yards in a season (3,433) for the second straight year. Riding the school's all-time single-season rusher -- Darren Sproles (1,465 yards) -- the Wildcats led the nation in rushing touchdowns with 53 and ranked fifth in rushing offense, averaging 264.1 yards per game. K-State's total offense average of 423.4 yards per game ranked 15th nationally, while the Cats finished up second in scoring offense (44.7 ppg) and first in margin of victory (33.0). On defense, K-State held opponents to just 249 yards per game, including a school-record 69.5 yards on the ground. The K-State defense yielded an average of just 11.8 ppg.


The 108th season of Wildcat football

The 2003 season marks the 108th college football campaign for Kansas State. The Wildcats enter the year with an all-time record of 415-561-41, with 28 percent of those victories coming in the last 14 seasons under current head coach Bill Snyder (116-51-1). In fact, under Snyder's direction the Wildcats have not had a losing season since going 5-6 in 1992. Of Kansas State's 35 winning seasons in 107 years of football, 10 have come under Snyder in the last 12 years.


Running with the Pac

The 2003 BCA Classic will be Kansas State first meeting with California. And though the Wildcats have never previously tangled with the Golden Bears on the gridiron, K-State has faced many of Cal's Pacific-10 Conference brethren.


Kansas State is just 6-14-1 all-time vs. teams hailing from the Pac-10, but enters Saturday's season opener riding a four-game winning streak vs. the league after wrapping up 2002 with a 34-27 victory over Arizona State in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.

K-State is 4-2 vs. Pac-10 schools under current head coach Bill Snyder. Two of the Wildcats' contests vs. Pac-10 schools occurred in bowl games, with both meetings coming in the Holiday Bowl. In addition to last year's Holiday Bowl victory over Arizona State, Kansas State also defeated Washington, 24-20, during the 1999 season.


The Pac-10 and ESPN

Saturday's BCA Classic tilt vs. California marks the first time Kansas State has faced a team from the Pacific-10 conference in back-to-back games. The Wildcats ended the 2002 season with a 34-27 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl win over Arizona State. The game will also mark the first the K-State has appeared on ESPN in consecutive games. In fact, the California contest will be Kansas State's first regular-season television appearance on ESPN since falling to Colorado, 35-21, on Oct. 22, 1994. Each of K-State's subsequent five broadcasts on the network have come in bowl games.


Tube Time

The 2003 BCA Classic will be Kansas State's 71st television appearance, including 29 national broadcasts. Of those 70, 63 have come during the 14-year Bill Snyder era at K-State. Overall, the Wildcats are 43-27 when playing on television and 19-10 in national telecasts. K-State is 5-3 when playing on ESPN.


Pappy's Boys

There's no bigger connection between Kansas State and California than College Football Hall of Famer Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf, who distinguished himself as a head coach at both Kansas State (1934) and California (1947-56).


Waldorf led K-State to its lone outright conference football championship in 1934, leading the Cats to a 7-2-1 record in the Big Six Conference with wins over Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas. Regarded as one of the giants in college football coaching, Waldorf earned his greatest accolades during his 10-year coaching career at California, leading the Golden Bears to a 67-32-4 record from 1947-56, including three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances following the 1948, 1949, 1950 seasons. Between 1947 and 1951, his teams played 38 consecutive regular-season games without a defeat.


California has a booster group, "Pappys Boys," that includes more than 500 former Golden Bears who played under the legendary coach. Founded in 1986, the organization recently established a $400,000 endowment for football scholarships and facility improvements. The group also produced a book, "Pappys Boys, The Rose Bowl Years: A Legacy of Winning," which contained 59 autobiographical essays by former players and coaches.


His stints at Kansas State and California were separated by a 12-year tenure at Northwestern (1935-46). His coaching career also included stops at Oklahoma City (1926-27), as an assistant at Kansas (1928), at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State; 1929-33), Kansas State, Northwestern and California. The final 20 seasons of his football career were spent as player personnel director of the San Francisco 49ers. Waldorf, who was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987, passed away August 15, 1981.


Going back to back

Kansas State has played team from the same conference in consecutive games eight times in school history, most recently in 1997 when the Wildcats faced three Mid-American teams (Northern Illinois, Ohio, Bowling Green) to open the 1997 season. The last time K-State finished the year with one conference opponent then opened the next season with a foe from the same league occurred in 1994 and 1995, when the Cats faced the Big East's Boston College in the Aloha Bowl before opening the following season with Temple.


Opening away, again

The 2003 BCA Classic will mark the third time in the last four seasons that the Wildcats have opened up away from KSU Stadium. Kansas State started the 2000 season with a 27-7 victory over Iowa in the Eddie Robinson Classic played at Arrowhead Stadium. In 2001, the Cats again took their show on the road, this time to California as the Cats defeated USC, 10-6, in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.


Starting strong

Kansas State will put a 13-game winning streak in season openers on the line when the Wildcats square off with California in the 2003 BCA Classic. The streak dates back to the 1990 season when K-State defeated Western Illinois, 27-6, in head coach Bill Snyder's second season in Manhattan. The Cats have not dropped a season opener since Snyder's inaugural campaign in the Little Apple, when K-State lost at Arizona Sate, 31-0, in Sun Devil Stadium on Sept. 9, 1989.


No Cat naps in August

Kansas State is a perfect 4-0 all-time in games played during the month of August, including a 3-0 mark under head coach Bill Snyder. Counting the 2003 BCA Classic, the Wildcats have played an August tilt three of the last four seasons. The only August match up played prior to the Bill Snyder era at Kansas State occurred on August 30, 1986, when K-State defeated Western Illinois, 35-7, at KSU Stadium.


Early start

Kansas State, which hopes to be playing in college football's final game of the season, will be playing in one of the nation's first contests of the year, when the Wildcats open their 108th year on the gridiron Aug. 23 in the 2003 BCA Classic vs. California at Arrowhead Stadium. The game is the earliest start in school history for the Wildcats. San Jose State and Grambling technically kick-off the college football season in the Literacy Classic at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif. at 5 p.m. (CT), one hour and 47 minutes before the Cats and Golden Bears tee it up.


Come early, stay late

Not only will Kansas State play its earliest game ever, but if the Wildcats were to win the Big 12 North they would also play a record number of games - 15. K-State played a current school-record 14 games in 2000, opening in the Eddie Robinson Classic vs. Iowa on Aug. 26 before taking on its 11-game regular season schedule, advancing to the Big 12 Championship game and playing in the Cotton Bowl. Should the Cats win the North, their season could span seven months (including two practice day's in July and a possible New Year's Day or post New Year's bowl berth), and at least 156 days.


Streaking into 2003

Kansas State brings the nation's sixth longest active winning streak into the 2003 season after rolling up victories in each of its final six games of the year. The nation's longest streak belongs to defending national champ Ohio State, which has won 14 straight. Boise State, with 11 consecutive wins, is the only other NCAA Division I-A team currently in double figures.


More streaking

In addition to its current six-game winning streak, here are a couple more K-State streaks:

          Kansas State has won 11 games in five of the last six seasons.

          K-State has won at least nine games in nine of the last 10 seasons.

          Kansas State has capped each of its last 10 seasons with a bowl trip

          The Wildcats have won 13 consecutive season openers.

          Kansas State has won 35 straight regular-season games vs. non-conference opposition. The Cats' last non-conference loss was on Oct. 17, 1992, when K-State dropped a 28-16 decision at Utah State.

          K-State has won 38 straight non-conference home games. The last loss to a non-league foe at KSU Stadium was a 37-20 setback vs. Northern Illinois on Sept. 30, 1989.

          The Cats have won four in a row over teams from the Pac-10.

          Kansas State has scored a rushing touchdown in each of its last 27 non-bowl games.

          The Wildcats have outrushed their opponents in 13 consecutive contests (last miss was the 2001 bowl vs. Syracuse).

          K-State has held the time of possession advantage in seven straight games entering the 2003 season.


The exception, not the rule

After 2002's 11-2 campaign, its looking like K-State's 6-6 mark during 2001 was more of a bump in the road than a precursor of things to come. Still, the turnaround engineered by Bill Snyder and his staff during 2002 was historic in the at Kansas State. The Wildcats' five-win pickup from 2001 to 2002 equaled the largest single-season improvement in school history. A five-win bump has occurred only two other times in K-State history as both the 1905 and 1953 teams both improved from one win the previous season to six.


Fixture in the polls

          Kansas State opens the 2003 season ranked No. 7 in the preseason Associated top 25 and No. 5 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll.

          K-State's preseason ranking marks the seventh time in the last eight years that the Wildcats have debuted in the top 25 of both polls. It is also the third time in the last six years that the Cats have been ranked in the top 10 of each poll, as Kansas State was ranked in the preseason top 10 in 1998 and 2000.

          The Wildcats' 2003 preseason rankings are among the highest in school history. Kansas State's initial ranking of No. 5 is its highest debut ever in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. Prior to 2003, K-State's highest preseason ranking by the coaches was No. 6 in 1998. In the AP Top 25, K-State has been ranked higher in the preseason just once when the Cats debuted at No. 6 in 1998.

          The only time in the last eight years the Wildcats have not been ranked either preseason poll occurred last seasons. Ironically, Kansas State finished 2002 by equaling its highest final ranking in the coaches' poll in school history - No. 6. K-State also finished up ranked No. 6 in both 1995 and 1999.


Good Omen

A preseason top-10 ranking for Kansas State has portended good new for the Wildcats in recent years. In 1998, K-State debuted at No. 6 in both polls before going on to finish the season with an 11-2 record, a No. 10 ranking in the AP Top 25 and a No. 9 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. In 2000, the Wildcats put together an 11-3 campaign, finishing the year ranked No. 9 by the AP and No. 8 by the coaches after debuting at No. 8 in the AP Top 25 and No. 9 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.


Sign of Success

Year Preseason Final Record

1998 6/6 10/9 11-2

2000 8/9 9/8 11-3

2003 7/5 tbd tbd


Media likes the Cats

For the first time in the eight-year history of the Big 12 Conference, Kansas State has been picked to win the league's North Division. The Wildcats have been tapped as high as second three times (1998, 2000 and 2001), and predicted to finish third during four other seasons. K-State went on to win Big 12 North titles in 1998 and 2000. Over the first seven years of the league, the media has correctly predicted seven of the eventual 14 division champions.


The All Guys

Kansas State boasts four players on the All-Big 12 Conference preseason team, including three members on offense alone. Offensive lineman Nick Leckey, running back Darren Sproles and tight end Thomas Hill were selected on offense, with defensive end Andrew Shull being tapped on the defensive side of the ball. K-State's four selections are the third most in the league and trail only Oklahoma and Texas, which each have five.


Gunning for hardware

Several Wildcats have made appearances on preseason national award watch lists. On the lines, Nick Leckey is a member of the Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Rimington watch lists, while Andrew Shull has been tapped for the Ted Hendricks Award slate. Among the skill players, Ell Roberson has been added to the Davey O'Brien watch list, while Darren Sproles is among those selected to the Doak Walker Award panel. Last year, cornerback Terence Newman won the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back.


Finishing strong

There may not have been a hotter team in the country over the last five games of the 2002 regular season that Kansas State. During that span, the Wildcats

          Went a perfect 5-0, including road wins at Baylor, Kansas and Missouri.

          Outscored the opposition 253-30, including road shutouts at Kansas and Missouri. They were the first road shutouts for K-State since a 17-0 win at Tampa on Sept. 29, 1973.

          Averaged 50.6 points per game while allowing just 6.0 for a staggering average margin of victory of 44.6 points per game.

          Posted the largest margin of victory ever in its series vs. Kansas (64), Iowa State (51) and Nebraska (36), despite not scoring a point in the fourth quarter vs. either KU or ISU.

          Improved its position in the Associated Press Top 25 from No. 20 to No. 6.


Ministers of defense

Kansas State has developed one of the nation's top defensive traditions under head coach Bill Snyder and that continued during 2002 as the Wildcats finished first in the nation in scoring defense (11.8 ppg), allowed the fewest touchdowns in the nation with 19 each (Ohio State also yielded just 19) and finished second in the country in total defense (249.0 ypg). The Cats were especially stingy on the ground, giving up the nation's second fewest yards per game --69.5. Kansas State's total defense figure placed it in the top five in that category for the sixth straight season, making K-State the only team in the nation to accomplish that feat.


More Defense

          Kansas State recorded three shutouts during the 2002 campaign, giving the Wildcats a conference leading 11 since the start of the Big 12.

          Since Bill Snyder's arrival in the Little Apple, K-State has posted 18 shutouts, including at least one in each of the last nine seasons.

          Bill Snyder-coached K-State teams have held opponents to less than 200 total yards 31 times, including five in 2002.

          Only Kansas State, Alabama, Notre Dame and Troy State held four opponents under 200 yards in Division I-A.

          Arizona State gained only 17 yards rushing in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl and was the sixth Wildcat opponent to be held to less than 50 net yards rushing last season.

          K-State allowed just 69.5 yards per game on the ground in 2002, second in the nation behind TCU. The Cats held their last eight foes to a net 340 yards rushing combined (42.5 ypg).

          Prior to 2002, the school record for rushing defense in a season was 96.5 ypg. The 2002 season marked the third straight season K-State re-set this record (previously 98.3 - 1988, lowered to 98.2 in 2000, to 96.5 in 2001 and now to 69.5 in 2002).


Stop, Thief

California's young quarterbacks will have plenty to contend with in the BCA Classic if history is an accurate indicator.

K-State has had at least one interception in 51 of the last 58 games and in 61 of the last 67 outings (including bowls).


The Wildcats have had 28 interceptions in their last 18 games, a string dating back to 2001 that includes the Bowl. K-State has grabbed 14 opposing passes in its last eight games alone.


Overall, the Cats have had 72 takeaways in the last 31 games, including 24 in the last eight games of 2002 (14 interceptions/10 fumbles).


With 20 interceptions, K-State ranked T14th nationally among Division I teams during 2002.


Quarterback Keeper

Kansas State's offense will be directed by senior signal-caller Ell Roberson, who is among the early, early candidates for the 2003 Heisman Trophy. One of the nation's most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks, Roberson is coming off a banner junior campaign. Below is a few of Roberson's exploits from the 2002 season:

          Roberson set a Kansas State single-game rushing record against Nebraska, amassing 228 yards on 29 carries and scoring three touchdowns.

          Roberson set single-play, single-game and single-season records for rushing yards by a K-State quarterback with the performance vs. the Huskers... His 91-yard touchdown with 2:27 left in the first quarter vs. Nebraska was the longest on record by a Wildcat QB, and the longest by any Wildcat since Gerald Hackney went a school-record 96 yards against Kansas in 1948.

          With 1,032 yards in 2002, Roberson exceeded the 643 he had in 2001 and surpassed the single-season record for rushing yards by a QB of 748 by Michael Bishop in 1998.

          Roberson reached the 1,000-yard mark in the fourth quarter of the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl win over Arizona State, finishing the year as the seventh Wildcat to top 1,000 yards.

          Roberson notched his third three-TD game in a four-game stretch against Arizona State, scoring on runs of 32, 3 and 1 yard. Against Nebraska, he had touchdown runs of 1, 91 and 25 yards, and found the end zone on rushes of 4, 4 and 1 yard at Kansas. Despite not scoring against Missouri, Roberson had 11 rushing touchdowns in the Wildcats' final five games.

          Roberson's 100-yard game against the Huskers was his second in 2002 and the sixth of his career. The six are the most in a career by a Wildcat QB, surpassing Michael Bishop's four in 1997 and 1998.

          Roberson owns six of the top nine rushing games ever by a Wildcat QB.

          More with Roberson

          Ell Roberson averaged 86.0 rushing yards per game in 2002, ranking 54th nationally, but fourth among quarterbacks.

          Against Colorado, Roberson passed the 1,000-yard mark in career rushing yards, becoming only the 20th Wildcat and the second K-State QB to hit that mark.

          Roberson's 1,843 career rushing yards rank eighth on Kansas State's career list. He is the top rushing QB in Wildcat history, passing Michael Bishop, who concluded his career with 1,314.

          Roberson was 44th in the NCAA in individual total offense, averaging 217.7 yards per game after totaling 315 at Missouri (244 passing, 71 rushing) and 278 vs. Arizona State.

          With 4,397 total offense yards, Roberson became just the eighth Wildcat past the 4,000-yard mark in school history. He ranks seventh on K-State's career total offense list.

          Ell Roberson's final pass efficiency rating of 136.5 would have ranked 20th in the nation if he had enough attempts to qualify for the national list... He finished five attempts below the 15 per game required.

          With the three rushing and one passing TD against Arizona State, Roberson jumped from 51st to 34th on the NCAA's 2002 list of points responsible for, which combines points scored by rushing and passing, as well as two-point conversions. Only Josh Harris of Bowling Green (134 points) and Chance Harridge of Air Force (132) were QBs with more individual points scored than Roberson, who finished 31st in the nation in individual scoring with 98.


Rolling with Sproles

Making up the other half of K-State's two-headed monster in the offensive backfield is junior Darren Sproles, who gained 1,465 yards on the ground during 2002 to become the Wildcats' all-time single-season rushing leader. Below are a few of Sproles' 2002 accomplishments:

          Sproles ended the regular season with 1,465 yards, eclipsing the mark of 1,263 set during 2001 by Josh Scobey for tops on K-State's single-season list.

          Sproles set eight other K-State records during 2002, including the single-season mark for most all-purpose yards with 1,800. The old record of 1,648 was set by Henry Hawthorne in 1970.

          Sproles ended the year with a streak of nine consecutive 100-yard games and 10 for the season.

          Josh Scobey had seven 100-yard games in 2002, while Isaac Jackson had six straight 100-yard games in 1973. Jackson and Sproles are the only Wildcats ever to string together more than three 100-yard games.

          Sproles became the fastest Wildcat ever to reach 1,000 yards, hitting the mark on his 159th carry of the 2002 season.

          Sproles averaged 124.9 yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry during conference play, gaining 999 yards.

          Sproles finished the 2002 season ranked 19th in the nation in rushing. On the list of NCAA rushers, Sproles' 6.18 per-carry average ranked fourth among players with at least 200 attempts. The only players with 200 carries ranked ahead of Sproles in yards per carry were Heisman Trophy candidates Larry Johnson of Penn State (7.70), Quentin Griffin of Oklahoma (6.56) and Willis McGahee of Miami, Fla. (6.22).

          Sproles' per-carry average was nearly a full yard better than the school record of 5.34 set by Eric Hickson in 1998.

          Sproles ranked 29th nationally in all-purpose yards and T34th in scoring.

          Sproles' scored 104 points during 2002, becoming just the fifth Wildcat to top 100 points in a single season.


Double dip

The double 100-yard rushing game by Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles against Nebraska last season was the second of the year for the duo and the fourth in the last two years at K-State, but only the eighth in school history. Roberson and Sproles had 178 and 121, respectively, at Colorado. Roberson teamed twice with Josh Scobey during the 2001 season (USC and Iowa State) for double 100-yard games.


Catching on

James Terry came to K-State as a highly-touted junior college transfer and lived up to expectations, hauling in 28 receptions for 561 yards. He looks to continue that evolution as K-State's feature wide out after a junior campaign that included:

          Finishing as Kansas State's second-leading pass catcher.

          Leading K-State with five catches for 90 yards in the Holiday Bowl victory over Arizona State. Coupled with his four catches for 95 yards at Missouri, he went 9-for-185 in the final two games of 2002. Of his 28 receptions last year, five went for touchdowns.

          Having at least one catch in each of the last seven games in which he played, with eight of his catches coming in back-to-back games against Oklahoma State and Texas.


Iron Man

Center Nick Leckey has been a stalwart on the offensive line for Kansas State. The senior, who enters the 2003 campaign with 25 straight starts (27 career) dating back to the 2001 season opener, has been tapped as a preseason All-American by Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Playboy. A consensus first team All-Big 12 selection in 2002, Leckey was also named to the conference's 2003 preseason All-Big 12 team.


Sack Machine

With an inexperienced defensive line beside him, senior defensive end Andrew Shull is sure to face plenty of double teams during the early part of 2003. K-State's most productive defensive lineman a year ago, Shull finished seventh on Kansas State's single-season list in quarterback sacks with 10.0, a figure that ranked second in the Big 12. He also had at least a half-sack in five of 2002's last six games.


Buck stops with Buhl

Josh Buhl had one of the most productive defensive seasons in Kansas State history from his outside linebacker slot during 2002. With his team-leading 135 tackles, the most at K-State since Kirby Hocutt had 135 in 1993. Buhl finished T11th on the Wildcats' single-season stop chart. Overall, Buhl led or tied for the team lead in tackles in a game in eight of the Wildcats' 13 games in 2002. He also had seven double-figure games on the season. Buhl may have been at his best at Colorado, getting credit for 17 tackles, the most by a Wildcat last season.