A September game against Florida Atlantic isn’t the type of matchup that normally fires up Kansas State football players, but motivation will be easy to find as they prepare for Saturday.
The Wildcats are eager to return to action after a long bye week, and they are excited to play their first home game of the season — against any opponent.
Everyone associated with the program is raring to go, including K-State coach Bill Snyder.
“It has been a long time,” Snyder said. “We have had 100 practices and we haven’t played at home yet. That is very uncommon for us. I sense the anxiety. I probably have a little bit of it myself, and I normally don’t.”
K-State began the season with a 26-13 loss to Stanford. That was nearly two weeks ago. Since then, players and coaches have worked together in practice to correct errors from the opener and develop an effective game plan for Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. kickoff against Florida Atlantic.
They also watched a lot of football.
The Wildcats made use of the time off, but time ticked by slowly without a game of their own to focus on.
“It has felt long,” defensive back D.J. Reed said. “Watching everybody play on TV last week was hard. You want to play. It’s here now and I am looking forward to it. We definitely want to get back out there, especially in our home stadium.”
K-State is the last team in the Big 12 to play its home opener. A sellout crowd is expected, and the simple opportunity to play in front of a home crowd for the first time since November will fuel players as game day approaches.
Four freshmen starters and a handful of other newcomers will make their home debuts on Saturday, but the entire team is looking forward to running onto the field.
“I am extra eager,” defensive back Donnie Starks said. “It is a great feeling playing here in Manhattan. We always talk about how it is louder here than at away games. It will be fun.”
K-State is favored by three touchdowns over Florida Atlantic, which defeated Southern Illinois in its opener then lost to Miami 38-10 last week. The Wildcats have, at times, struggled to live up to Vegas expectations against soft nonconference competition in recent years, perhaps because some players lacked big-game motivation.
That shouldn’t be an issue this time around.
“Our excitement level is high for a mixture of reasons,” running back Justin Silmon said. “We are definitely excited to get back and play in front of our home fans, but just getting out there and playing again will feel good.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett