October 20, 2008

Wildcats prepping for rough stretch

The question floating around the Vanier Football Complex on Monday was whether Kansas State, which enters its most challenging stretch of the season with a Homecoming game against No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday followed by back-to-back road dates at No. 16 Missouri and No. 19 Kansas, could show progress without capturing a win. An incredulous quarterback Josh Freeman furrowed his brow and shot back at the notion, replying sharply, "Say what?"

"Are you saying that you're thinking we're going to lose the next three games?" he said to the inquirer.

"No," the reporter explained, "but it'll be considered an upset if you win."

The Sooners are 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12. The Jayhawks are 5-2 and 2-1 and the Tigers are 5-2 and 1-2. They are a combined 16-5 overall and 5-4 in the Big 12, as Oklahoma thumped Kansas, 45-31, over the weekend while Missouri suffered its second-straight loss with a 56-31 pounding at top-ranked Texas.

The Wildcats opened the week as 19-point underdogs to the Sooners.

"We go into every game expecting to win," Freeman said. "(Those three upcoming ranked opponents) are all definitely good teams. They all have a loss in a previous game. It's going to be a matter of how well we prepare throughout the week and ultimately our performance on Saturdays."

The daunting three-game stretch stuck out during the offseason like a trio of cage matches against Kimbo Slice. Coach Ron Prince and players hinted at the tilts early on, placing emphasis on September and October improvement, because as Prince put it in his previous two seasons, "They always remember the games in November."

Now K-State, which needs wins at 4-3 and 1-2, will face three Top 20 teams that are led by coaches coming off 11-win seasons and that are guided by three of the top 15-most efficient passers in the nation.

The tests will start with an 11:30 a.m. kickoff Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium that will be televised by Fox Sports Net.

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