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K-State to Return to the Desert, Face UCLA in December 26 Cactus Bowl

December 4, 2017
By Corbin McGuire

K-State's extraordinary 11-year bowl streak from 1993-2003 began in Arizona at the Copper Bowl and ended in Arizona at the Fiesta Bowl. On December 26, the Wildcats will continue their next-best postseason streak with a return to the desert.

K-State (7-5) accepted an invitation on Sunday to play UCLA (6-6) in the 2017 Cactus Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. It marks the eighth-straight bowl appearance for the Wildcats, who will play the program's seventh bowl game in the state of Arizona. The Big 12/Pac 12 battle is set for December 26, at 8 p.m. (CT), and it will be aired nationally on ESPN.

"The opportunity to once again be in the desert is something that our players and people that travel with us, from staff to families, have always enjoyed, and they will certainly enjoy their time there. The opportunities that are provided through the bowl are very special to our program," said K-State head coach Bill Snyder, who's led K-State to 19 bowl games in 26 seasons. "Our players are excited about the opportunity to be in another bowl game. They take none of them lightly. We remember playing in the Copper Bowl in 1993, and people were overjoyed. It was a wonderful experience, and each one thereafter has been very special. Our people are looking forward to it, and I am grateful and thankful that we have the opportunity."?


To earn this opportunity, K-State closed the season on a tear. The Wildcats won four of their last five games, including a pair of fourth-quarter, double-digit comeback victories against Texas Tech and Iowa State. This marked the only time in school history the Wildcats have won two games in a season when trailing by 10 or more points in the fourth quarter.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson, who's been named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week twice this season, led both come-from-behind efforts.

In the regular-season finale, he engineered an 87-yard scoring drive in the final 1:55 against Iowa State, hitting Isaiah Zuber for the go-ahead score with no time left on the clock. It was first time the Wildcats scored a game-winning touchdown on the final play of regulation since Kevin Lockett caught one against Cincinnati in 1995.

"I am certainly pleased with the progress that the young people in our program made during the course of the latter part of the season," Snyder said of his team, which won six of its last seven games last season that ended with a victory over Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl. "They obviously played well in the last several ballgames of the year. Last year when we came back and finished the season quite well at the end, that propelled us into the bowl game. I thought there was a very positive approach, and hopefully the finish this year will do the same for our ballgame with UCLA."

For the second year in a row, the Wildcats will also face off with one of the top NFL Draft prospects. Last year, it was Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, who was taken No. 1 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. This year, the challenge will come on the other side of the ball.

UCLA junior quarterback Josh Rosen, projected by many analysts to be the first player taken in April if he enters the draft, has thrown for 3,717 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. The Bruins average 345.3 passing yards a game, which ranks fifth in the country.

"UCLA is a very fine football team," Snyder said of the Bruins, whom K-State has played three times in its history, most recently in the 2015 Alamo Bowl. "They are more than a formidable opponent."

Ticket Information

K-State's seating allotment for the Cactus Bowl includes a total of 6,000 tickets, and after accommodating pre-orders, student tickets and team needs, approximately 3,000 tickets remain for the general public. All fans who placed a pre-order will receive the number of tickets that were requested. The K-State Athletics Ticket Office will work over the next week to assign specific seats based on the athletic department priority points and mail pre-ordered tickets. Detailed information regarding bowl ticket order fulfillment has been emailed to fans who placed a pre-order. ??

Public tickets for K-State fans who did not place a pre-order are available now at the K-State Online Ticket Office at www.kstatesports.com/bowlgame and through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum or via phone at 1-800-221-CATS beginning at 8:30 a.m., on Monday. Fans are strongly encouraged to order through K-State's official allotment to ensure that all Wildcat fans are seated in the official K-State sections of the stadium. The location for K-State's ticket allotment at the Cactus Bowl is among the best of any bowl game with prime lower level end zone locations available for $65.

Student tickets, priced at $65, will go on sale at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday to ICAT members, while all remaining students can purchase tickets beginning Thursday at 8:30 a.m.??

The K-State Alumni Association will also provide official travel packages to the bowl game. Visit the Alumni Association's official bowl travel page - http://k-statesportstours.com – for travel package information.



We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Corbin McGuire, or K-State Associate AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.


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