K-State takes five-game bowl losing streak against Michigan
The Sports Xchange
NCAAF Team Report - Michigan - INSIDE SLANT
Kansas State carries into the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is disconcerting.
Ever since the Wildcats began an 11-year string of consecutive postseason appearances, beginning with the 1993 Copper Bowl, the precursor to the game they will play this year in Tempe, Ariz., their fan base has traveled in droves.
With each defeat, pressure builds and is something Kansas State (7-5) must deal with when it meets Michigan (7-5) in a battle of unranked teams on Dec. 28.
"Certainly for the fan base, it is important to them, and they like that," said veteran coach Bill Snyder, who has directed Kansas State to all but two of its 17 bowl appearances.
"For so many, it is vacation time. I think it is meaningful in that respect. As it relates to the rest of college football itself, it is better than not having any other opportunity, for sure."
Snyder will treat the game like any other, in terms of preparation and importance.
Kansas State players, however, do not want the ongoing bowl skid to tarnish their coach's legacy.
Defensive end Ryan Mueller can recall that thought crossing his mind following recent defeats in the Cotton and Fiesta bowls, when about 40,000 fans followed the Wildcats.
"I really started to think, 'Wow, this coach has been coaching for so long and his bowl record doesn't speak for how great of a coach and mentor he really is,'" defensive end Ryan Mueller said.
"As a player, internally, I just felt like, 'Gosh, what can I do to get this coach wins in the bowl game and end the season on a real positive note.' It hasn't happened in many years."
For the Wildcats to enjoy a breakthrough, they must slow a Michigan attack that features quarterback Devin Gardner, who generated the second-most total offense of all Big Ten players.
His favorite target, wide receiver Jeremy Gallon, is coming off a nine-catch performance against Ohio State.
Michigan climbed as high as 11th in the rankings and started 5-0, but lost four of its last five games. Hardly the way Team 134 (a reference to the number of seasons the Wolverines have played football, and won an FBS-record 910 games) wanted to go out, particularly when an upset bid against Ohio State ended with a failed two-point conversion and a 42-41 defeat.
"Our team is focused on finishing the season right and sending our seniors out with a victory," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.
To do so, the Wolverines must contain the breakaway threat posed by Kansas State junior Tyler Lockett, who doubles as an All-Big 12 receiver and returner. The Wolverines could have the man to do exactly that with cornerback Blake Countess, who led the Big Ten with six interceptions.
NCAAF Team Report - Michigan - NOTES, QUOTES