Football Friday: Kansas State, Michigan, Nebraska and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

Football Friday is back. Who else is excited?

This is a good week to talk Kansas State football. The Wildcats are headed to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl later this month to take on Michigan, and that should be a highly competitive game. Both teams went 7-5 in the regular season and K-State is an early 3.5-point favorite.

And with a title sponsor like Buffalo Wild Wings, you know the game won’t be decided until the final play.

Anyway, let’s get onto your questions. Thanks, as always, for providing them.

Nebraska vs. Kansas State definitely seemed like the more compelling matchup, and I think most expected the former Big 8/Big 12 rivals to meet in Tempe. The Cornhuskers won more games than the Wolverines and beat them head-to-head, yet the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl opted for Michigan. You don’t see that every day. It would have been like Texas Tech jumping over K-State in the Big 12 bowl order. There are, however, a few reasonable explanations why Michigan was the more attractive team. For starters, K-State and Michigan have never played. It’s always fun to create new matchups in bowls. K-State now gets a shot against a storied program. Conversely, Nebraska and K-State have played 95 times, with the Cornhuskers winning 78 of those games. They have even played in a bowl game (kind of) before. Anyone remember the 1992 Coca-Cola Bowl in Tokyo? I get that K-State vs. Nebraska would have been cool, but from a bowl executive’s point of view, are Nebraska fans going to be fired up for another game against K-State?
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Is Kansas State headed for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or the Holiday Bowl? A Sugar Bowl executive will provide the answer

As strange as it may sound, a New Orleans man in a blazer will decide Kansas State’s bowl destination.

The Wildcats face two possibilities:

1. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which will be played against a Big 10 opponent (possibly Nebraska) on Dec. 28 in Tempe, Ari.

2. The Holiday Bowl, which will be played against a Pac-12 team (potentially Arizona State) on Dec. 30 in San Diego.

K-State could end up in either game, but the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl seems like the current favorite. That’s a drastic shift from a few days ago, when K-State appeared destined for the Holiday Bowl. The bowl’s executive director said it was planning on selecting the Wildcats. But the dominoes of college football have fallen in a way that may bump K-State up to one of the Big 12′s top four bowls.
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A few minutes with … former Nebraska QB, current FX analyst and Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch

Eric Crouch will be in Manhattan on Saturday working his second game as a college football analyst for FOX Sports when Kansas State takes on Miami. But unless you absolutely fell in love with the way he called West Virginia’s blowout win over Marshall last weekend, you likely know him best as the former Nebraska quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy in 2001.

Crouch became the 13th player in college football history to run and throw more than 1,000 yards in a season when he was a senior. K-State fans often compare his record-breaking year to the one Collin Klein had last season. When Crouch won the Heisman he rushed for 1,115 yards, passed for 1,510 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. A year ago, Klein rushed for 1,141 yards, passed for 1,918 yards and scored 40 touchdowns.

Their playing styles are noticeably similar, and Crouch is looking forward to watching Klein play in person this weekend.

Crouch was nice enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk about that and more on Wednesday. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

What memories will come back to you when you return to Bill Snyder Family Stadium?

It will bring back a lot of memories, for sure. Not great memories, but one that sticks out to me was the facemask no call. But I’m not the kind of guy that holds a grudge. I’m not upset about Kansas State or anything, that’s water under the bridge. I had a fun time playing at Nebraska, and all our games with Kansas State were competitive. My freshman year I was down there and that was a very tough atmosphere to play in on the road. I came back as a junior and it started icing the last 30 minutes of the game. That really made it difficult to come from behind and try to win. I’m 0-for-2 down there, and it will be that way for a long time.

Did you ever get any grief about that? No offense, but there aren’t many Nebraska quarterbacks who never won in Manhattan.

No (laughs) people haven’t given me any grief about that. But I don’t want to start anything either.

Will it be strange at all coming to K-State now that the Wildcats and Huskers are in different conferences?

Maybe a little, but probably not. Every time I think of my college career, K-State was part of it and they always will be. I guess it’s a little different because Nebraska has left the conference, but my history will always lie in the Big 12.

What are the keys to this game?

The way I look at it, the key for Kansas State is to establish that front line. Both teams have similar offenses, the way they like to keep it balanced and mix it up. It will be important for them to establish that line of scrimmage and be tough and open holes. Kansas State is the veteran team here and Miami is the young team. Miami can’t let its young guys get caught up in the atmosphere. They need to stay focused and do their jobs.

Do you see many similarities between Collin Klein and yourself?

Yeah, he carried the ball 317 times last year, so there are definitely some similarities. He is a guy who can run and pass, which makes it dangerous for defenses to try and defend him. He probably throws a little more than I did and has the opportunity to do a little more in the passing game than we did. We really focused on the option and the play-action pass. He drops back in the pocket a little more. His ability to do both really puts your defense at a disadvantage. He’s a guy who can beat you with the deep ball and he is also a guy who can punish you with the run. That can really wear a defense down.
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Semi Ojeleye creates buzz after big game

If you didn’t know Semi Ojeleye scored 50 points in a high school basketball game earlier this week, you need to pay closer attention. Seriously, it was all over the Internet.

But if this is the first you’re hearing about it, here’s the skinny: Ojeleye, a 6-foot-6 junior small forward out of Ottawa who is the brother of Kansas State senior Victor Ojeleye, hit eight three-pointers, made all 10 of his free throws and scored a career-high 50 points during a 103-70 win over Spring Hill.

“I started off the game making my first three or four shots,” Ojeleye said. “My teammates did a good job of finding me. We moved the ball really well. I got into a good rhythm and everything just came together for me.”

Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith was reportedly in attendance for Ojeleye’s big game, but college coaches everywhere heard about it. They were already paying attention. Ojeleye says he has scholarship offers from K-State, Wisconsin, UCLA, Oklahoma State, Northwestern, Nebraska, Marquette and Missouri.

With more 50-point efforts, that list will surely grow. But he’s trying not to think about that at the moment.

“A lot of people have been telling me, ‘Good game’ lately,” Ojeleye said. “I’m just trying to stay humble, be positive and stay thankful.”
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When will Nebraska, K-State meet again?

Don’t expect Kansas State and Nebraska to play a football game against each other anytime soon.

With the Cornhuskers on their way out of the Big 12, scheduling unknowns and hurt feelings will put an end to their rivalry with the Wildcats for at least a few years.

I asked K-State athletic director John Currie last month about the possibility of continuing the series as nonconference opponents, and he said he had a long list of priorities that ranked higher than wondering about that.

Earlier this week football coach Bill Snyder said he wouldn’t be opposed to facing Nebraska again at some point, but he wouldn’t anticipate it happening in the near future.

But they have to meet somewhere down the line, don’t they? The schools are less than three hours away from each other, and fans regularly attend games at both locations. According to USA Today and The Oklahoman, Nebraska is open to facing Oklahoma in nonconference play. Why not K-State?
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Live Blog: Nebraska 48, K-State 13

Behind a sensational performance from Taylor Martinez — 241 yards and four touchdowns rushing — the Nebraska football team thumped Kansas State 48-13.

Check back soon for a full postgame report.
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Gameday Preview: Nebraska at K-State


Kansas State and Nebraska have played each other almost 100 times over the years. The Cornhuskers have won the vast majority of those games, but the Wildcats have made things interesting since Bill Snyder’s arrival.

Talk to any K-State fan about the greatest wins in program history, and you will hear victories over Nebraska in 98, 2000 and 2003 mentioned right up there with K-State 35, Oklahoma 7.

This is a rivalry, and the sellout crowd at Snyder Family Stadium tonight will once again show just how heated a rivalry it can be when both teams are playing well.

Adding to the excitement is the fact that Nebraska is on its way out of the conference to the Big Ten. Some K-State fans are happy to see the Huskers go, others will miss them. But everyone agrees they want to send Nebraska on their way with a loss.

The final Big 12 game between these teams should be a good one.
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Player to watch: Prince Amukamara


Six Nebraska players have come up with interceptions this season, but somehow Prince Amukamara is not one of them.

Through four games, the preseason All-American — and top defensive back on the Cornhuskers’ roster — has had to settle for 14 tackles and four pass breakups.

So it’s safe to assume the senior cornerback with an awesome name (pronounced ah-moo-kuh-mara) will be looking to grab his first pick against Kansas State on Thursday. If the Wildcats aren’t ready for him, he could easily come up with one.
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A few minutes with … Chris Harper

ChrisHarper Wichita native Chris Harper is off to a relatively quiet start at Kansas State. The redshirt sophomore wide receiver has grabbed three passes for 37 yards this season, and is yet to take the field as a starter.

But he has added much needed size, depth and talent to the Wildcats’ receiving corps. He feels like a breakout game could come at any moment, and hopes it can come against Nebraska on Thursday.

Harper may have spent his freshman season at Oregon, but he learned a thing or two about playing in big games while on the West Coast, and knows how important this rivalry is to the K-State fan base.
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Nebraska week is here

Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder kicked off Nebraska week by answering two silly questions during his weekly Big 12 Teleconference today.

Both prove the importance of doing a little research.

Silly question No. 1: Is it starting to feel like K-State/Nebraska is going to be a big-time rivalry year in, year out?

Snyder’s answer: Well, no. Unfortunately it doesn’t become that because Nebraska will be leaving the conference next year. So no we certainly understand that’s not going to take place.

Silly question No. 2: Most of your players have never played in a big game before. How are they going to handle Thursday?

Snyder’s answer: I don’t know that that’s really that accurate of a statement. Read More »