November 9, 2007

Five Keys to Victory: K-State at Nebraska

When: Saturday, Nov. 10
Kickoff: 11:30 p.m. (CDT)
Location: Lincoln, Neb.
Venue: Memorial Stadium (81,067)
TV: Versus Network

Each week, provides Kansas State's Five Keys for Victory. Last week against Iowa State, the Wildcats could not have strayed further from their keys and ended up losing, 31-20. Apparently, K-State coach Ron Prince also lists out some keys to victory. The Wildcats flunked on his report card too.

"After going back and watching the tape, all the things that we think are important for the game to go the way we'd like for it to go to be able to come out and establish some type of rhythm on offense, have a good stop early, score first, and maybe get a momentum play in the kicking game," Prince said. "All of those things went exactly opposite of how we've tried to play in every game on the road, and we gave life, encouragement and points to the other team."

The Wildcats return to the road Saturday when they take on the beleaguered Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. The Wildcats' loss last weekend in Ames greatly altered the context of the season and this game, turning the NU contest into a virtual must-win for K-State's bowl hopes.

At 5-4 on the season and in need of one more win to become bowl qualified and two more to assure themselves a bowl spot, the Wildcats have two road games and a game against seventh-ranked Missouri in Manhattan remaining. Yes, the loss made K-State's road much more rocky, but it's nothing compared to the utter collapse witnessed in Lincoln this season.

Nebraska enters the game 4-6 and knowing the only way to salvage some dignity out of the season starts with beating K-State on Senior Day and then winning at Colorado.

"All we can ask for at this point is just to finish up 6-6," Nebraska senior cornerback Zackary Bowman said. "This has been a tough season for us, obviously, but I think with a .500 record it will smooth some things out for us."

The talk in Nebraska these days is hardly on the game at hand. It's on the future of Coach Bill Callahan and the entire state of Husker football. The Huskers may be on a five-game losing streak that hurt the worse last week when Kansas humiliated the Huskers, 76-39, but K-State's players know there will be plenty of talent on the other side of the ball Saturday.

"No it's not (hard to respect them) because I know the kind of talent they have on that team," junior defensive end Ian Campbell said. "I have played against those guys for the last couple of years. Granted, they lost some guys to the draft last year, graduated some guys, but obviously they still have a lot of talent. If you let a team with this caliber of talent open up a window, there is going to be trouble."

As for the Wildcats, this is a golden chance to beat Nebraska in Lincoln, a rarity through the years. Now they need to make it happen in an environment that should, at least at the start of the game, be much more difficult than a week ago in Ames.

And if this week's Keys to Victory look a little familiar, well the first three are exactly the same as last week for the Iowa State game. This is a road game that allows the Wildcats to try, try again after a disappointing performance against the Cyclones.

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