Gameday Preview: K-State at CU

ColoradoPreview

The final Big 12 football game played between Kansas State and Colorado should be an interesting one.

The Wildcats (6-4 overall, 3-4 conference) are looking for a victory to enhance their bowl chances. The Buffaloes (4-6, 1-5) are still in the bowl hunt too, but seem to be more focused on simply closing the season out strong without Dan Hawkins in the picture.

It will be fun to watch experienced running backs Daniel Thomas and Rodney Stewart go against each other and see which team has the most motivation.

Kickoff is set for 1:10 p.m. The game will not be televised.
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Player to watch: Rodney Stewart

RodneyStewart

In the Big 12, few running backs are more dependable than Rodney Stewart. The Colorado junior rusher currently ranks third in the conference with 1,035 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns.

He is a consistent threat to move the ball on the Buffaloes’ offense, and is capable of handling a heavy workload. Last week against Iowa State, he ran for 123 yards on — get this — 36 carries.

Earlier this season, Daniel Thomas raised a few eye brows by stating that he would be happy to run the ball 30 times per game. Though I’ve never had the pleasure of interviewing Stewart face to face, I’m guessing he would have no problem issuing a similar statement today.

Stewart’s strong will and running ability will pose challenges to Kansas State’s rush defense, which allows an average of 220 yards per game and ranks 119th out of 120 Division I teams nationally.
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Looking ahead to Gameday: at Colorado

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Editor’s note: In preparation of the upcoming football season, K-Stated will look ahead to all 12 games on the Wildcats’ 2010 schedule. Next up, at Missouri.

Two main story lines revolve around Colorado heading into the 2010 football season.

1. With the Buffaloes set to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10, how will they be treated by opposing fans across the conference they have called home for so many years? My Magic 8 Ball says poorly.

Animosity is rarely directed at Colorado. How will they handle the extra boos? Colorado has lost 12 straight regular-season road games as it is. The Buffs could easily keep that streak going by losing all five of their road games (at California, at Missouri, at Oklahoma, at Kansas and at Nebraska) this year.

2. After being brought back despite a 16-33 record for being a nice guy, can Dan Hawkins save his job? At Big 12 media days, Hawkins said he had not been told by CU administrators how many wins he needed in order to continue coaching in 2011. Nor was he worried about that.

Here’s guessing a winning season and a trip to a mid-tier bowl are his requirements. Can it be done? Most experts say no.

The Kansas State Wildcats will catch Colorado late in the season, and by then the answer to the above two questions will likely have been answered. Odds are the game will mean more to the Wildcats.
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Now at the podium: Colorado

Few teams have been willing to openly speak their mind on Colorado and Nebraska leaving the Big 12 Conference this week.

But the Buffaloes at least were willing to say they will miss the Big 12 on Wednesday.

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins and his players all agreed they will sincerely miss the Buffs’ rivalry game with Nebraska. And offensive lineman Nate Solder said it will be hard for him to say goodbye to the Big 12 North.

“There is always so much to play for in those games,” Solder said.
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Postgame: K-State 68, Colorado 51

Kansas State’s 68-51 victory over Colorado on Saturday produced few memorable moments, but there were three touch passes and a dunk toward the end of the game that fans will be talking about for quite some time.

The sequence went like this:

Denis Clemente grabbed a rebound at midcourt and flung a behind-the-back pass to Rodney McGruder. The freshman could have done anything with the ball, but he chose to pass to Jacob Pullen under the basket. Pullen also could have scored, but he chose to pass to a streaking Curtis Kelly, who threw down a thunderous dunk.

Those involved with the play would later say that they continued sharing the ball in order to have a little fun.

After viewing that play, and K-State’s entire second-half effort against the Buffaloes, it’s easy to tell the Wildcats are at their best when they’re enjoying themselves.
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K-State ready for first rematch game

According to the old sports cliche, it’s difficult to beat a team three times in a single season. But what about twice?

Starting today, the Kansas State basketball team begins a set of five rematch games against Big 12 opponents with Colorado coming to Bramlage Coliseum.

The Wildcats are 14.5-point favorites, and have won eight straight against the Buffaloes. So logic dictates they won’t have much trouble downing Colorado for the second time since January.

But K-State coach Frank Martin insists winning won’t be easy. There’s just too much extra preparation that goes into rematch games for that to be the case.

“It’s harder,” Martin said. “The second time through is always a lot bigger of a challenge for both teams.”
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Scouting the Colorado Buffaloes

Even last year, when Colorado struggled through a 15-loss Big 12 campaign, Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin says he saw a Buffaloes team on the verge of becoming good.

“Now it’s time to turn the corner,” Martin said. “They’ve obviously done that.”

If all it takes to turn the corner is beat a ranked team at home (No. 22 Baylor) then the Buffs have succeeded.

There are still plenty of skeptics out there, though. Sure, Colorado played Arizona and Gonzaga tough in Maui, and stayed with No. 1 ranked Texas last week in Austin. But other than Baylor, it doesn’t have any impressive wins to brag about.

With No. 13 K-State coming to Colorado tomorrow, the Buffs will get the chance to prove themselves, though. Back-to-back wins over top 25 teams would look awfully good on an up-and-coming team’s resume.
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