December 28, 2006

K-State, Rutgers set to square off

HOUSTON -- While Kansas State will try to provide the sizzling ending to its turnaround story that landed the Wildcats and first-year head coach Ron Prince in the program's first bowl in three years, No. 16 Rutgers will enter with a riveting tale as well when the teams tangle in the Texas Bowl on Thursday night at Reliant Stadium.

Just one day away from playing in his final game at K-State, first-team All-Big 12 Conference senior linebacker Brandon Archer, who led the resurgent Wildcats in tackles (97) for a third-straight season, could sense the growing anticipation.

During the week he and his teammates were witness to part of the purple flood that settled in Houston, as bowl officials estimate 25,000 purple-clad supporters will make up the crowd of 46,000 expected for the 7 p.m. kickoff that will be televised by the NFL Network.

"All the fans are coming in and it's getting thicker and thicker," Archer said. "We've practiced just on Rutgers for two weeks now. The excitement, we've got to push it all away. We've got to focus on the task at hand."

K-State, 7-5, won three of its last four games, including a 45-42 victory over No. 4 Texas that gave the 37-year-old Prince the most wins of any first-year Division I-A coach in the last five years when inheriting a team coming off a losing season.

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