Wildcats complete turnaround with Sunflower Showdown win

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It’s not easy to do what the K-State Wildcats did this season. Since the start of the BCS era, only 18 other teams have started a season 2-4 before winning five of their final six games to become bowl eligible. They are also just the fourth team in Big 12 history to accomplish this feat.

“The biggest thing that we can take out of this is that we never gave in,” junior wide receiver Tyler Lockett said. “We kept fighting back and fighting back regardless of the close games that we lost, we came back the next game fighting.”

At one point in the 2013 season, the Wildcats had not been on the winning end of a football game in six weeks. It was just something head coach Bill Snyder’s squad had to fight through. Throwing in the towel would have been easy, but that was far from the plan for this team.

“I’m proud of the fact that they have come back, that they didn’t give into it and they tried to move in a different direction,” Snyder said. “But you remember the losses, the biggest margin was 10 points and I don’t think there was a ballgame that we played where we didn’t have our chances.”

The Wildcats never lost a game by more than that 10-point margin all season. In their five losses, the Wildcats fell by an average of 7.4 points per game, which might leave some wondering “what could have been.”

That’s a frustrating experience,” Snyder said. “Our players said last night when asked about defining the season in one word, they just said ‘frustrated,’ but it doesn’t take away how much I appreciate the young people in our program and the kind of pride we have in each and every one of them.”

On Saturday, the Wildcats made sure to finish out their regular season on a high note. The Sunflower Showdown against instate rival Kansas is a game that Bill Snyder is not accustomed to losing. After the 31-10 win in Lawrence, Snyder’s overall record against the Jayhawks moved to 18-4.

A goal for senior running back John Hubert coming into the season was to eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark. In the previous two seasons, Hubert came close to the mark, finishing less than 100 yards away from 1,000 yards each of the past two campaigns. That goal looked like it was slipping away from Hubert until Saturday when Hubert exploded for 220 yards on the ground. The senior from Waco now sits only 32 yards shy of getting that four-digit season tally.

Another Wildcat who found himself in the record books after a strong performance on Saturday was junior defensive end Ryan Mueller. The Leawood, Kan. native added one more sack on in Lawrence to give him 11.5 on the season, tying the K-State single season record.

Now, the Wildcats will have to sit back and wait to find out which bowl game they will be playing in. Likely destinations for the Wildcats are the Holiday Bowl in San Diego or a return to Tempe, Ariz., where they would play in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

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