With a couple weeks to kill before I get a chance to write another post-game report, I decided to try something new. It may or may not become a semi-regular feature next season.
Arizona. This will be the sixth time Bill Snyder and the Wildcats have traveled to Arizona for a bowl game and the second time in a row. We all know Bill thrives on familiarity, and the Phoenix/Glendale/Tempe area is fast becoming a wizardly stomping ground.
B1G. Michigan is the only current member of the B1G the Wildcats have never faced in football. Historically, K-State's record against B1G teams is pretty terrible (even if you don't count the Huskers), but what better way to get back on track than to beat the most storied program in the conference?
Copper. This game will be played almost exactly 20 years to the day of K-State's first bowl win in the 1993 Copper Bowl, which became the Insight Bowl and then the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Detractors. Michigan has built up one of the biggest national brands in America over the last 133 years. Along with having a strong and devoted nationwide fan base, the Wolverines have an even stronger and more devoted group of vehement detractors. K-State will have a lot of bandwagon fans on Dec. 28.
Eleven. It's been 11 years since K-State's last bowl victory. Their first bowl victory came at the Copper Bowl (see above) 11 years after their first bowl appearance.
Fielding. As in Fielding Yost, the legendary Michigan football coach who led them to six national championships in the early 20th Century. Before Yost coached at Michigan, he spent a year in Lawrence as head coach at the University of Kansas. Before that, he was at Nebraska. None of these are good things.
Gallon. Jeremy Gallon is one of the most prolific receivers in the country. The unheralded Wildcat defensive backfield was quietly solid through the last half of the season and might be particularly motivated to show what they can do on the national stage against one of college football's best.
History. Michigan has the most wins of any college football program. Kansas State was the first program to 500 losses. Nothing better than a classic David and Goliath storyline.
Iowa. Before Bill Snyder took over as offensive coordinator at Iowa, the Hawkeyes had never beaten Michigan twice in a decade. From 1979-881, Iowa went 3-4-1 against the Wolverines, their most successful decade up to that point.
Jadeveon. As in Clowney, the monster South Carolina defensive end who became an internet sensation last bowl season by delivering this 110 MPH hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl:
What could K-State do as an encore? Well, perhaps someone on the K-State defense might try to mimic the mighty Meshak last year against TCU:
Kerfuffle. There was a bit of a kerfuffle made about Michigan being chosen as K-State's bowl opponent over Nebraska, with some even grumbling that Snyder himself campaigned in favor of the Wolverines. The speculation behind this rumor is that Snyder wanted no part of being on the same field as Husker coach Bo Pelini, but it might work out better for the Cats in end as they also get to avoid Ameer Abdullah.
Lockett. I mentioned Jeremy Gallon, but Tyler Lockett isn't far behind him in production this season. With the two teams being so close on paper, a big game from Lockett might make the difference between #GoBlue and #EMAW in Tempe.
Mueller. Michigan ranks 114 in the country in sacks allowed per game. Ryan Mueller might be in for one hell of a game against one of the nation's worst pass blocking offensive lines.
Ninety-eight. While it's pretty classy of Devin Gardner to honor Tom Harmon by wearing 98 all year, we don't like that number 'round these parts. The more Mueller can drop a quarterback wearing 98, the better.
Option. As in the run/pass option. No matter the quarterback, the play has worked pretty well all season for K-State's offense. Facing the Wolverines well-rounded defense, this play could be a difference maker.
Parrish. As in Stan Parrish, the last coach of the abysmal pre-Snyder Kansas State era. After his sad tenure at K-State ended, Parrish eventually went on to be successful as an offensive assistant at Michigan. A few years after leaving Ann Arbor, he was hired by Brady Hoke as an assistant at Ball State and became head coach when Hoke left for San Diego State. I'm not sure what any of this has to do with this game, but it's an interesting bit of trivia.
Quarterbacks. The narrative of the 2013 K-State season has been the quarterback situation. The Wildcats were at their best post-Baylor when the offense finally clicked with Jake Waters and Daniel Sams working in near perfect harmony. The system fell off a bit towards the end of the year, but hopefully the few weeks of practice will allow the rhythm to return.
Revenge. In 2011, the Wildcats were passed over for a bid in the Sugar Bowl in favor of Michigan and Virginia Tech even though both were ranked lower than K-State in the BCS. Now's the time to get revenge.
Shiny. Trophies are shiny. The Wildcats got one last year for winning the Big 12, but the only way they get another trophy this year is by winning this bowl game. Much like blood to sharks, once young athletes develop a taste for shiny things, they want more, more, more.
Trending. Since October 12, these two teams are trending in opposite directions. Michigan has lost five of their seven match-ups since that Saturday, while Kansas State has won five of seven.
Utilitarian. This matchup looks incredibly close on paper, which means that the most likely path to victory is classic Snyder utilitarianism; doing just enough to win. But perhaps we might be surprised like we were in Morgantown in 2012 and Lubbock this season, with the Wildcats exploding to decisive victory.
Victory. The first full recruiting class of Snyder's second tenure aren't going to want to leave Manhattan without a bowl victory. Plain and simple.
Windbreaker. Perhaps Coach Snyder will feel a little extra motivation when he gets his hands on a brand new Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl windbreaker.
X-Men. Wolverine is the most badass of all the X-Men. How badass would it be for K-State to get a victory over the Wolverines? How is that not motivation?
YPC. Every team that's beat the 'Cats this year finished the season ranked in the top 50 in yards per carry2. Michigan is ranked 110, lower than any opponent the Wildcats have faced all year.
Zimmerman. Though it's unlikely he'll play, Ty Zimmerman has had a great career at K-State and his presence on the sidelines will serve as extra motivation for the team to get a victory before Zimm leaves Manhattan.
1. For some reason that I didn't investigate, Iowa and Michigan didn't play in 1979 or 1980. Maybe Fry and Snyder needed a few years to prepare.
2. According to TeamRankings.com, Texas ranks 51, but they averaged 4.5 yards a carry which is the same as Oklahoma State at 48. Also, as an FCS team, NDSU was not included in any rankings that I could find, but I'm going to assume they were right up there.