November 17, 2006

Wildcats clearly focused on playing KU

Kansas State beat Texas last Saturday. Kansas took the weekend off with a bye week. And what does all of that add up to in the mind of K-State coach Ron Prince? One giant, "So what."

"I don't know there are any advantages or disadvantages. We had a chance to play a game and that's about it," Prince said. "People speculate and conventional wisdom goes in a lot of different directions. We had a chance to play a game and we've got to play another one and we're more than obliged to play well in it."

Prince has become the ultimate one-game-at-a-time coach, and so far this season his Wildcats have done a good job of containing each game into its proper week. So, if anyone is expecting K-State to have a hangover from all of its celebrating over its 45-42 victory over No. 4 Texas last Saturday, Prince is quick to remind everyone that his team is more than focused on playing the Kansas Jayhawks.

"This is a game we've been looking toward all season," Prince said. "This is your last regular-season game and obviously our opponent is well-known to our players and organization so they have our full attention."

It wasn't as if this series needed more tension, but Prince is a fan of rivalry games and this is the K-State game he circled for this Wildcats long ago. And that probably will not change.

"Obviously, we've been looking at this game for quite a while. This is a game that's been marked on our schedule all year long," he said. "It doesn't take a whole lot to know if you're from this area or on this team the kind of significance that's going to be paid to the game. This is what's great about college football.

Kansas coach Mark Mangino also knows the importance of the game. His team's 31-28 win over K-State two years ago at Memorial Stadium ended an 11-year winning streak for the Wildcats and gave Mangino's program a giant boost of confidence.

This year, K-State enters with a 7-4 overall record and a 4-3 mark in the Big 12. K-State is already bowl eligible, while KU (5-5, 2-4) needs to beat either K-State this week or Missouri next to reach that status.

"This game means something after not being as important for a while," Mangino said. "We feel like it is good opportunity for fans in the area to enjoy the game. We are looking forward to it. It will be the last game at Memorial Stadium for our seniors, so it will certainly be a game where our team gives a great collective effort."

Mangino team's certainly does not want to end its season with a pair of losses to its rivals that would keep the Jayhawks out of a bowl, and K-State could climb as high as the Alamo Bowl with another win.

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