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SLATE: Bowling in Memphis

K-State seeks win over Naval Academy in the Liberty Bowl

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Mississippi State
Can Chris Klieman guide K-State to a 9th victory in his inaugural season?
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

One of the fun things about bowl season is getting a feature spot on a national telecast to show the country what Kansas State is all about. At 2:45 this afternoon, Chris Klieman’s rookie year as the Wildcats’ head coach will culminate with a Liberty Bowl appearance against the Naval Academy. National media is paying attention, too, and for the first time in years, they can’t rely on the same old tropes that they annually dusted off during the Bill Snyder era.

Your basic game previews include one from Kevin McGuire at NBC Sports, who notes Klieman’s previous playoff experience at FCS North Dakota State should translate to a prepared Wildcat team today. But he predicts that preparation will only keep K-State within three points of Navy. Tut-tut, Kevin.

Brenden Welper at is even less charitable, predicting Navy will sink the Wildcats, 34-21. Boo, Brenden! gives you the gambler’s angle, noting that Navy is 4-0 against the spread in its previous four bowl games, and that it has won four of its last five. But you have to buy a subscription to get the actual prediction, and gambling is a sin, anyway. Right?

From enemy territory (it feels wrong to call the US Naval Academy “enemy,” doesn’t it?) Bill Wagner at the Capital-Gazette pens perhaps the most comprehensive breakdown of the game you’ll find anywhere. He expects the biggest battle to be for control of the clock.

Of course, the local guys previewed and predicted, as well. Kellis Robinett has read all the prognostications, has seen the +3 line against the Cats, and says “phooey” with all of that, picking K-State to win by three. That’s our man.

The feature-type articles that give insight into the K-State experience and personalities of the program are more valuable—and more fun.

Ava Wallace at The Washington Post spotlighted Chis Klieman, calling his first-year success at K-State “one of the more noteworthy stories in college football this season.”

The Omaha World-Herald, meanwhile, paid homage to senior center Adam Holtorf, a Seward, Nebraska native who will conclude his K-State career today.

Robinett looked at the Navy triple-option attack as the “ultimate test” for K-State’s defense. He also reminisced with K-State athletic director Gene Taylor, whose time at the Naval Academy as ticket manager (among other titles) beginning in 1986 will give today’s game special meaning for him.

Corbin McGuire at K-State Sports Extra says the Wildcats will lean on the lessons they learned this season to seek victory in the bowl game.

WIBW highlighted the Wildcats’ respect for the Navy squad’s service to the country. It also covered the K-State pep rally and parade on Beale Street, as did Memphis outlet WMCActionNews5, which seemed impressed with the purple invasion.

Ryan Black at The Mercury provided a team health update. Though the picture is generally positive after the long break, it appears defensive back Jonathan Alexander may not be available to play. Greg Woods also looked at the overlooked but crucial logistical job of managing the team’s equipment, a duty that has been handled for the past nine years by equipment manager Al Cerbe.

Leave it to women’s basketball player Ayoka Lee to interlope on the football monopoly, as she won the Big 12 Freshman of the Week award for a fifth time this season. Is she the only freshman in the league, or is she simply awesome?

We’ll be along later with the usual How to Watch and Game thread. Go Cats!