Kickoff: 8 p.m. (CT)
Location: Phoenix, Ariz.
Stadium: Chase Field (40,000)
Series: UCLA Leads, 2-1
Jason Benetti (Play-by-Play)
Jordan Rodgers (Analyst)
Olivia Harlan (Sidelines)
K-State Radio: K-State Sports Network; k-statesports.com; SiriusXM Ch. 84
Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play)
Stan Weber (Analyst)
Matt Walters (Sidelines)
National Radio: ESPN Radio; SiriusXM Ch. 80
Marc Kestecher (Play-by-Play)
Tom Ramsay (Analyst)
Twitter Updates: @kstatesports, @kstate_gameday, @KStateFB
WILDCATS AND BRUINS MEET IN THE DESERT
Winners of four of its last five games and looking to win consecutive bowl games for the first time since 1999-2000, Kansas State takes on UCLA in the 2017 Cactus Bowl on December 26, inside Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. This year’s Cactus Bowl is one of the more exciting bowl matchups of the season as K-State puts its winning ways on the line against a Bruin team that features a stellar passing game.
The Cactus Bowl marks the 21st bowl game in K-State history and the 19th under Hall of Fame head coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats will be making their fourth appearance in the contest, but are playing under a fourth different name at a third different stadium. Kansas State first appeared in the game as it won the 1993 Copper Bowl over Wyoming, 52-17, in Tucson, Arizona. The game then moved to the Phoenix area as the Wildcat lost to Syracuse, 26-3, at Chase Field (then Bank One Ballpark) before K-State earned a 31-14 triumph over Michigan in the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
K-State is riding a streak of eight-straight bowl games, a mark that is tied for 13th nationally. After narrowly missing postseason play in the first season of his second tenure in 2009 (6-6 record), Snyder quickly led K-State back into the bowl picture in 2010 when Kansas State played in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Since then, they have played in the Cotton Bowl (2011), Fiesta Bowl following a Big 12 Championship in 2012, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (2013), Alamo Bowl (2014), Liberty Bowl (2015) and Texas Bowl (2016).
A LOOK AT K-STATE
- One of the hottest teams entering the bowl season, K-State turned a 3-4 mark following consecutive losses to top-10 teams into a 7-5 record that included late-game drama and a top-10 road victory.
- The Wildcats’ road to the Cactus Bowl began with wins over Central Arkansas and Charlotte to open the year before falling by a touchdown at Vanderbilt. Kansas State opened conference play with a win over Baylor but dropped its next three games – a double-overtime loss at Texas, a defeat to then-No. 6 TCU and a seven-point loss to Oklahoma, which scored the game-winning touchdown with seven seconds remaining.
- K-State got back on track by picking up its ninth-straight win over in-state rival Kansas. The Wildcats then traveled to Texas Tech and found themselves down by 11 points in the fourth quarter. All K-State did was record a field goal, touchdown and game-tying two-point conversion to send the game into overtime. The Wildcats then scored a touchdown on its first possession of overtime before forcing four-straight incompletions inside the 10-yard line.
- After falling at home to then-No. 23 West Virginia, Kansas State made a statement for its sixth win over the season in the form of a 45-40 win at then-No. 10 Oklahoma State, the Wildcats’ first road win over a top-10 since 2012.
- In the regular-season finale against Iowa State, K-State used its blueprint from the Texas Tech game as the Wildcats trailed, 19-7, in the fourth quarter but scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes – including a game-winning one-yard touchdown pass from Skylar Thompson to Isaiah Zuber as time expired – for a 20-19 win.
- Thompson, a redshirt freshman, is the Wildcats’ third quarterback this year, starting the final three games. During that stretch, he has thrown for 515 yards and four touchdowns on 38-of-60 (63.3-percent) aim to go along with 158 rushing yards and another two scores. Sophomore Alex Barnes leads the K-State rushing attack with 702 yards and six touchdowns on 134 carries, while Zuber, another sophomore, leads the team with 51 catches. Junior Byron Pringle has totaled 705 receiving yards and six touchdowns on only 28 catches to rank first nationally in yards per reception.
- Defensively, senior linebacker Trent Tanking (96) and Jayd Kirby (93) pace the Wildcats in tackles. Kirby leads the squad with 10.5 tackles for loss and ranks second with 4.0 sacks, just a half sack shy of team-leader Will Geary. K-State also has two of the top corners in the league in juniors Duke Shelley (11 PBUs, 2 INTs) and D.J. Reed (9 PBUs, 4 INT).
- K-State’s stellar special teams are led by All-Big 12 performers Matthew McCrane (kicker) and Nick Walsh (punter) in addition to all-conference return men in Reed and Pringle. McCrane holds the school record with 57 career field goals, including 21 this year. Reed currently ranks first in Big 12 history in kickoff-return average (35.3) and ranks second nationally in punt returns (17.1).
K-STATE IN ARIZONA
- This year marks the seventh time K-State will play in an Arizona bowl, including the third time since the 2012 season.
- The Wildcats hold a 3-3 all-time record in Arizona bowl games, including a 31-14 victory over Michigan in the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
CATS AND BRUINS
- K-State is 1-2 all-time against UCLA as the two teams have met three times since 2009.
- The teams played in a home-and-home series in 2009 and 2010. UCLA won the first matchup, 23-9, in Pasadena, California, in 2009, but K-State held on its home field in the form of a 31-22 victory in Manhattan in 2010.
- The Wildcats and Bruins also met in the 2015 Alamo Bowl (following the 2014 season) with UCLA holding on for a 40-35 victory.
- UCLA jumped out to a 31-6 halftime lead, but K-State outscored the Bruins, 29-9 in the second half. However, UCLA was able to hold on for the five-point victory.
K-STATE AND THE PAC-12
- K-State will be playing its 94th game all-time against current members of the Pac-12 Conference when the Wildcats face UCLA in the Cactus Bowl, but 66 of those games came against Colorado as a member of the Big 8/12.
- The Wildcats will face a Pac-12 team in a bowl game for the fifth time in school history.
- K-State is 2-2 against the Pac-12 in bowl games after facing UCLA (L in 2015 Alamo Bowl), Oregon (L in 2013 Fiesta Bowl), Arizona State (W in 2002 Holiday Bowl) and Washington (W in 1999 Holiday Bowl).
- In an era of college football where nearly 80 teams play in bowl games each year, K-State is one of just 16 FBS schools nationally to ride of streak of at least eight-consecutive bowl berths.
• The eight-year bowl streak is tied for 13th nationally with only Oklahoma (4th; 19) and Oklahoma State (10th; 12) ranking higher in the Big 12.
• Kansas State is in rare company in college football as the Wildcats rank in the top 20 in wins among FBS programs over the last 23 seasons.
• Since 1995, K-State has picked up 190 victories, which ranks 19th in the nation.
• Among current Big 12 teams, only Oklahoma (3rd; 219), Texas (13th; 202) and TCU (15th; 195) rank higher.
ONE OF THE BIG 12’S BEST
• K-State is one of only three teams in the Big 12 to reach 100 league wins. Oklahoma tops the list with 137 Big 12 wins, while the Wildcats are third with 110.
• K-State ranks third in the conference in winning percentage since the start of 2011 at .651 (41-22), trailing only OU (.810; 51-12) and Oklahoma State (.698; 44-19).
• During that stretch, the Wildcats are 22-10 (.688) at home in Big 12 play and 19-12 (.613) on the road.
THE HALL OF FAMER
• The architect of the “greatest turnaround in the history of college football,” Bill Snyder was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
• Snyder is just the fourth person in the history of college football to be inducted as an active coach.
• Snyder has compiled a 209-110-1 (.655) record in 26 seasons at K-State as he is one of just six coaches to reach the 200-win mark and coach at only one school.
• Holding 170 more victories than any other coach in K-State history, Snyder ranks first in the FBS in wins among coaches at their current schools and second in total wins among active coaches.
• Additionally, Snyder has 123 conference wins to stand as one of four coaches with 100 Big 8/12 victories (Tom Osborne , Bob Stoops , Barry Switzer ).
• Goal No. 10 in the Wildcats’ 16 Goals for Success is “Never Give Up,” which led K-State to two of the most improbable wins in school history this season at Texas Tech and against Iowa State.
• The Wildcats trailed, 35-27, with less than 10 minutes left at Texas Tech but scored the game’s final 15 points – a field goal, touchdown and two-point conversion in regulation and a touchdown in the first overtime – for a 42-35 win.
• In the regular-season finale against the Cyclones, K-State trailed 19-7 with less than seven minutes remaining but scored a pair of touchdowns – including one on the final play – to earn a 20-19 victory.
• It marked the first time in school history the Wildcats had two wins in a season when trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter.
• The 11-point comeback at Texas Tech was the largest road deficit overcome for a win in school history.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
• Kansas State’s 20-19 victory in the regular-season finale over Iowa State came via a one-yard touchdown pass from Skylar Thompson to Isaiah Zuber on the final play of the game.
• It represented the Wildcats’ first-game winning touchdown on the final play of regulation since Matt Miller hit Kevin Lockett on a 22-yard touchdown pass to win at Cincinnati, 23-21, on Sept. 9, 1995.
- K-State started the season on the wrong side of the ledger in road games, losing at Vanderbilt and in two overtimes at Texas. However, K-State reversed the trend by winning its final three road games at Kansas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
- With their last loss coming at Texas onOctober 7, it marked the longest a K-State team went without losing a road game since 2002.
Asst. Director/Athletics Communications | K-State Athletics