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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 11 PRIMER

They Don't Get Bigger for Wildcats

November 13, 1998|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Ten years after a winless season, Kansas State's return from the ash heap of college football history lacks only this final brush stroke.

Kansas State has lost 29 consecutive games to Nebraska since the Wildcats last won in 1968.

"I certainly couldn't underplay the significance of this ballgame and wouldn't intend to, but every ballgame we play is probably the biggest one we've played at Kansas State," Wildcat Coach Bill Snyder said.

Typical Snyder. Comparing this game with earlier games this season against stiffs Indiana State and Northern Illinois is the epitome of coach-speak.

Snyder wants to beat Nebraska as much as Ali wanted to beat Frazier.

Kansas State thought it was ready for Nebraska last season but a 30-point defeat in Lincoln sent the Wildcats scurrying back to Manhattan.

Nebraska is an underdog for only the second time in four seasons. The last time it happened was at Washington last year, a game the Cornhuskers won handily.

Kansas State has caught Nebraska at the right time. The Cornhuskers are wounded and once again will be without standout quarterback Bobby Newcombe, who has not recovered from a knee injury suffered in the opener.

Nebraska has played Monte Christo and Eric Crouch, but has settled on Crouch after he rushed for 91 yards in last week's 42-7 victory at Iowa State.

Nebraska Coach Frank Solich is among the curious wondering how his team will react to the underdog role.

"I don't know how much that will play into it," he said. "I know this: Our players have confidence in themselves. We've stumbled a couple of times, but this squad has hung together."

Line: Kansas State by 10

Rating the TV Games

RATINGS

**** Don't leave the recliner

*** The yardwork can wait

** OK to flip to fishing show

* For arena football scouts only

**** No. 8 Wisconsin (9-0) at No. 15 Michigan (7-2), ESPN, 9 a.m.

With the Badgers one win shy of clinching a Rose Bowl berth, UCLA ticket-holders drool at the prospect of unloading more Rose Bowl ducats for a nifty profit.

Line: Michigan by 3.

** Northwestern (2-8) at No. 19 Penn State (6-2), ESPN2, 9 a.m.

Two of the Big Ten's top three schools in graduation-rate percentages mix in a little football between discussions on global warming and international finance.

Line: Penn State by 24.

*** No. 13 Missouri (7-2) at No. 6 Texas A&M (9-1), FSW2, 9:30 a.m.

Sorry to report that the last time Missouri visited College Station, the Tigers came up on the short end of a 73-0 drubbing.

Line: Texas A&M by 6.

**** No. 10 Arkansas (8-0) at No. 1 Tennessee (8-0), Channel 2, 12:30 p.m.

If you like this matchup the first time, you'll probably love it in the Southeastern Conference title game.

Line: Tennessee by 10.

** No. 14 Tulane (8-0) at Army (2-6), FSW, 12:30 p.m.

As Tulane's dream season rolls on, Army wonders why it ever enlisted for duty in Conference USA.

Line: Tulane by 15 1/2.

** No. 5 Florida State (9-1) at Wake Forest (3-6), ESPN2, 2 p.m.

Seminoles get a wake-up call, having to play Marcus "Rooster" Outzen at quarterback in place of injured Chris Weinke.

Line: Florida State by 26 1/2.

*** No. 9 Arizona (9-1) at California (5-4), Channel 9, 3:30 p.m.

Wildcats hoping to survive this game before sticking it to Arizona State on Nov. 21.

Line: Arizona by 11.

*** No. 18 Texas (7-2) at Texas Tech (6-3), FSW, 4 p.m.

It's tailback Ricky Williams versus tailback Ricky Williams. One is going to win the Heisman, the other is not.

Line: Texas by 2 1/2.

** No. 17 Georgia (6-2) at Auburn (3-6), ESPN, 4:30 p.m.

The athletic director warns that cheering in the press box and shameless campaigning for the Auburn job will not be tolerated.

Line: Georgia by 6.

*** No. 16 Virginia Tech (7-1) at Syracuse (5-3), ESPN2, 5 p.m.

UCLA fans rooting for Syracuse so Miami-Syracuse game Nov. 28 will be important enough to leave Hurricanes emotionally drained.

Line: Syracuse by 4 1/2.

5 Things To Look For

1. Northwestern looking at the bright side. The abysmal Wildcats got some good news this week when the NCAA's report on graduation rates revealed they ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten at 81%. You don't get to go to the Rose Bowl for that, but there's solace in knowing that while Purdue defeated Northwestern last week, 56-21, the Boilermakers are last in conference graduation rates at 40%.

2. Curry wins no favors. Ronald Curry, the nation's top high school quarterback prospect last year, returns home this weekend when North Carolina visits Virginia. Hope he isn't expecting the red-carpet treatment. Curry, from Hampton, Va., backed out of an oral commitment he made to Virginia in September 1997. It was Virginia's loss, as Curry, a star in basketball and football, may yet prove to be the best two-sport player since Florida State's Charlie Ward.

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