College football teams occasionally lack motivation while they prepare for bowl games.
Kansas State is not one of them.
“It would mean a lot to win another bowl game,” said senior receiver Tyler Lockett, who is preparing for the Alamo Bowl Jan. 2 against UCLA. “We won a bowl game last year. That was the biggest thing, just winning one. We finally turned that corner, and I think we will be ready for this next bowl game. A lot of us seniors want to go out right and end with a winning season, not a losing season. We had that my first two years. You don’t like the feeling after a loss.
“This is the last time all of us will get to play together, so we want to make it something special and something we will always remember.”
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The Wildcats partied long into the Arizona night last year, ending a five-game bowl losing streak by throttling Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Clearly, they want to feel that way again.
But that isn’t the only thing driving them.
Two other attainable goals for No. 11 K-State: a 10-win season and a top-10 finish.
“We still have a lot to play for,” cornerback Morgan Burns said. “We can still be a 10-win team, and that’s a great accomplishment.”
A victory over No. 14 UCLA would also go down as K-State’s most impressive of the season. Though it won at Oklahoma when the Sooners were ranked 11th, none of K-State’s nine victories came against teams that are currently ranked.
All three of its losses were to teams currently ranked in the top 20 — No. 19 Auburn, No. 6 TCU and No. 4 Baylor. A strong performance at the Alamo Bowl would further validate their success.
Bowl victories also send teams into the offseason with momentum and good vibes that can’t be matched after a bowl loss.
K-State coach Bill Snyder understands the importance of bowls.
“There is so much talk about are there too many bowls?” Snyder said. “If they had enough to accommodate every football team in the country, that would be great.”
K-State players know what will be at stake on Jan. 2 in San Antonio.
“I’ve just got to get this team ready to go and ready to win a bowl game,” senior defensive end Ryan Mueller said. “That is the next step. We have a chance to end the season as a championship team. I have been on both sides. I have been part of a losing bowl game and a winning bowl game. There is no question the locker room after a bowl victory is a lot better.”