Archive for Friday, October 27, 1995

K-STATE HOPES FOR HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE

October 27, 1995

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It won't score any points, throw any passes or leap up and make any tackles.

But players and coaches from both sides know the home field will have a tangible impact on Saturday's meeting between No. 6 Kansas (7-0 overall, 3-0 in the Big Eight) and No. 14 Kansas State (6-1 and 2-1).

Kickoff for the annual Sunflower Showdown is 12:10 p.m. at KSU Stadium. The game will be televised live locally on channels 5 and 27.

"I like going there because it's a hostile environment and we've done pretty well in hostile environments," KU senior punter Darrin Simmons said. "So, personally, I like going over there."

He's not alone. The Jayhawks have played their best on the road this season. Witness a stunning 40-24 victory over then-No. 4 Colorado, and a 38-17 victory over then-No. 15 Oklahoma.

The last time KU won games at Boulder, Colo., and Norman, Okla., in the same season was 1935.

"We don't seem to be fazed by it," KU coach Glen Mason said. "We don't seem to really worry about it. We probably played some of our best football on the road. Maybe it's an advantage we're playing away. I personally like going into that setting. Maybe I'm sadistic. They get after me from the time I get off the bus over in Manhattan to the time we leave. I kind of like that."

And what do the 'Catbackers say?

"They want to know if I'll come to their New Year's Eve party and things like that," Mason said with a laugh. "No, it's just good fun. You know how it is. I wouldn't say I'm their favorite coach, but that's OK."

The Jayhawks are venturing into notoriously unfriendly confines. K-State is 30-3-1 at home in the 1990s, including a 1-1-1 record against ranked teams at KSU Stadium.

"Our fans are wackos," said K-State senior tight end Brian Lojka. "They're tearing down everything in sight. That gives you a lift as a player."

The 'Cats could use a lift. They suffered their first setback last weekend, a 49-25 drubbing at No. 2 Nebraska.

"Anytime you get beat by 25 points or whatever it was, it hurts you confidence," K-State wide receiver Tyson Schwieger said. "But it's important to realize we played the defending national champions at their home. We thought we could win, but the blew us out. But we know we have a good football team."

Mason knows it, too.

"I think they have a very fine football team," Mason said. "They got just a tremendous defense, to no one's surprise. I think everybody anticipated that. They're every bit as good as I thought they'd be. They've got a strong front, an excellent secondary, they're well coached. On offense, they perform well."

Perhaps that should come as no surprise. The 'Cats have recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons. KU, meanwhile, overhauled after last season's disappointing 6-5 mark. That came on the heels of a 5-7 season the year before.

"I think maybe people look at it that we've improved a lot," Mason said. "Defensively, we've played better than anybody expected, better than I expected. On offense, we were playing what I characterized as poorly early on. When you're not playing well, obviously there's more room for improvement. ... We've gotten a little bit better each and every week. Well, it was a big jump at one time, then it's been gradual."

  • For a halftime update and the final score, call the J-W Sports Connection, 865-5000, category 6000.

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