BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- No bowl game since 2003. No conference
road wins in two years.
Kansas State freshman quarterback Josh Freeman had these two
glaring stats brought up to him all week. He was sick of hearing
So Freeman decided to do something about both. Freeman completed
22 of 26 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns Saturday to lift
the Wildcats to a 34-21 victory over Colorado.
It was the Wildcats' first road win since Nov. 6, 2004, at
Missouri and the first time Kansas State (6-4, 3-3 Big 12) has been
eligible for a bowl since it won the Big 12 championship in 2003.
"It means a lot," Freeman said. "We come out every week with
the intention of putting up a game like this. This is great."
The Wildcats players don't care what bowl game they attend, only
that they'll be going to one. Offensive lineman Greg Wafford
couldn't have asked for a better 21st birthday gift.
"My parents usually give me money for my birthday," he said.
"This is better."
Kansas State's first-year coach Ron Prince downplayed the
significance of going to a bowl.
"All it means is a chance to play another game," Prince said.
But the road win meant something. To come into Boulder, a place
Kansas State hadn't won since 2000, and hang 34 points on a good
Colorado defense impressed even him.
"Road wins are one of the very challenging things and mysteries
about sports," Prince said. "The field is exactly the same -- Gene
Hackman even took the guys out and walked them on the court and
measured the basket in 'Hoosiers.' To play the way we did, I was
hoping to get that kind of response."
The Wildcats' first road win of the season kept alive their slim
chances of winning the Big 12 North. They need to win out and have
both Nebraska and Missouri lose their remaining games.
In a battle of first-year Big 12 coaches -- Prince and Dan
Hawkins were hired just 11 days apart last December -- the contest
appeared headed toward the wire.
Trailing 17-0 at halftime, Colorado drew within 20-14 when
quarterback Bernard Jackson went 62 yards for a touchdown early in
the fourth quarter to put pressure on Kansas State. It was the
longest run by a Buffaloes quarterback since Darian Hagan's 71-yard
run against Colorado State on Sept. 9, 1989.
Kansas State immediately got some breathing room when receiver
Jordy Nelson caught a short pass, shed Colorado defender Cha'pelle
Brown and sprinted 74 yards for a touchdown with 11:55 left. Nelson
finished with 117 yards receiving.
While Nelson declined to talk after the game, running back James
Johnson filled in for him.
"I told Jordy he got that play because he works out with me,"
Johnson said with a grin. "Jordy is a great leader. He's a big
part of this team."
The Wildcats' Yamon Figurs added a 30-yard touchdown on a
reverse late in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Colorado (1-9, 1-5 Big 12) couldn't get anything going in the
first half. The Buffs had just three first downs and 2 yards
rushing. They rediscovered their offense in the second half, piling
up 308 yards. Jackson finished with 105 yards and two touchdowns
rushing. He also had a 1-yard touchdown pass to Tyson DeVree.
"I take the blame for us starting off slow in the first half,"
When Hawkins left Boise State for Colorado, he knew the road was
going to be rough -- but not this rough.
"I knew this was not going to be an easy rodeo when I got into
it," he said. "I came in with my spurs on. I might be getting a
little longer ride than I thought I was going to get. But I knew
there was going to be some bucking going on."
The Buffs defense was missing linebacker Thaddaeus Washington
for the first quarter -- he had his front two teeth knocked out on a
helmet-to-helmet collision -- but he returned shortly before
halftime. Washington was taken to the dentist after the game.
"I think this was a poor performance," defensive end Abe
Wright said. "It was frustrating, but (Freeman) is just like every
quarterback, just get pressure on him."
Yet the Buffs couldn't apply the pressure and Freeman had the
game of his short career. He completed 15 of 16 passes at one point
during the first half.
"Josh was good today," said Wildcats running back Leon Patton,
who gained 96 yards and scored a touchdown. "He just goes out
there and does it."
Kansas State followed his lead and now the Wildcats are heading
to a bowl. Which one, they don't know yet or even care.
"This is great," senior defensive tackle Quintin Echols said.
"I almost forgot what it feels like."