Mangino heads to KSU for the first time since leaving Manhattan

Updated: October 21, 2003, 8:14 PM ET

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Mark Mangino returns to Kansas State for the first time as a head coach when his surprising Jayhawks take on the Wildcats Saturday.

Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder hired Mangino in 1991 after Mangino was a coach at Ellwood City High School for one season. Mangino worked at Kansas State for eight seasons and helped to turn around a bleak football program.

"They just kept building and building and building until they built a Top 25 and then Top 10 program," said Mangino. "Once you get there it becomes tougher to stay there. They have done a good job of consistently striving for excellence every year."

Mangino left Kansas State with Mike Stoops, who took a defensive coordinator position at Oklahoma. He was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma for two seasons before taking over at Kansas.

"Mark knows what it takes to develop a successful program, having been part of that both here at Kansas State and at Oklahoma," Snyder said when Mangino was hired at Kansas.

Mangino and the Jayhawks faced the Wildcats last season in Lawrence, losing 64-0.

This year, Mangino is leading a team exuding confidence after a 5-2 start.

"We believe we can win no matter who we play against each and every Saturday," said Mangino.

It is easier to be confident with a quarterback who ranks second in the nation in pass efficiency. Bill Whittemore was unable to play in last year's game because of a knee injury but he has been spectacular this season, throwing 15 touchdowns, which ties the school record in a season set by David Jaynes in 1972 and Mike Norseth in 1985.

Kansas is coming off an unimpressive 28-21 win over Baylor. The defense, which has been inconsistent, allowed only 285 yards. But the week before Kansas gave up 598 yards in a 50-47 loss to Colorado.

To help the defense, Mangino moved Greg Heaggans to scout team quarterback along with 5-8 redshirt running back Matt Peterson. They will be simulating Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson and running back Darren Sproles.

"We can win the ball game," said safety Tony Stubbs. "We have a lot of speed and we have to wrap them up and tackle."

The game is about 1,000 tickets shy of being sold out but that hasn't affected the Kansas players or coaching staff.

"There will be more purple then blue but I think they (Kansas players) already have that figured out," said Mangino. "I think Manhattan is a fun place for college football. They have made it a really exciting atmosphere."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES

MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM