Salvaging the unsalvagable

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Junior linebacker Will Davis (35) and sophomore linebacker Elijah Lee (behind) bring down Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh just short of the goal line in the third quarter of the Wildcats' heartbreaking 34-36 loss to the Cowboys Oct. 3, 2015, in Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys scored a touchdown on the following play to cut the Wildcats' lead to two points at 28-26. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

After a crazy come-from-behind win versus Iowa State and the seemingly annual blowout of rival Kansas, K-State comes into the final game of the season with something they haven’t had since the start of the season: momentum.

The Wildcats started the season off by rolling though their three nonconference games before suffering the largest win drought for K-State in over 20 years; they dropped six straight games, seeing the possibility of a sixth straight bowl game fade away with each ensuing loss.

But now, with two successful weeks of football behind them and an opponent in front of them who hasn’t had a victory over a K-State team since the depression-era, the path to winning three in a row is clear.

“We can do it now,” junior linebacker Will Davis said. “It gives the guys confidence. Guys definitely have more pep in their step. A win is way better than a loss.”

And while there’s zero doubt of where wins and losses rank in a person’s psyche, what has been most impressive is that even with the losses, whether they be close heartbreakers or getting your doors blown off, this team’s focus has stood absolute. Winning has done nothing to alter that.

“I do not think we will have any more focus than what we have already had,” freshman center Dalton Risner said. “We have been that focused. We could have lost our bowl bid at Iowa State and at KU, and we were just as focused both of those weeks. We were just as focused all of the other weeks as well. Every week we come with it and get down to it on Monday and break down film. We are ready for West Virginia, and we already know what they will do on defense. Now it is just perfecting our craft throughout practice.”

That focus will get tested even more after word spread that K-State’s five current wins may be enough to have them playing in a bowl game. Risner and the Wildcats, however, said they do not care about that right now in the slightest.

“None of us are even thinking about that,” Risner said. “We want to beat West Virginia this weekend and earn ourselves a bowl game. I am not going to think about that as a football player. If you are thinking about that, then you are on the wrong page.”

The impact of getting that final win will be immeasurable. Salvaging the unsalvageable has been Bill Snyder’s modus operandi since 1989.

It will be a credit to this team, players and coaches who strode through a season filled with so many roadblocks and disappointments.

“It makes you thankful because you have been in those hard times and are able to bounce back,” sophomore linebacker Elijah Lee said. “We are in the situation where we can win this game and that is all we are focused on. It would be special, and you always want to go out on a winning season.”

Kickoff between the Mountaineers and the Wildcats is set for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

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Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.