Wildcats on national stage Thursday

By Steve Sell
September 17, 2014

Wednesday’s ramblings...

• WILDCATS CAN BECOME RELEVANT NATIONALLY — Kansas State has been the Rodney Dangerfield of college football.

No respect. Just ask its fans.

It seems like other than those who bleed purple and white, the Wildcats are insignificant on the national scene, a mere blip if you will.

That can change Thursday.

It what easily is one of Bill Snyder’s toughest nonconference games during his storied tenure, the Wildcats can make a statement with a nationally televised victory over No. 5 Auburn, which is less than a year removed from playing for the national championship.

The Tigers, or War Eagles if you prefer, probably aren’t quite as good as their No. 5 ranking, but they’re still prestigious enough to give the Wildcats a rocket boost to their season.

Bill Snyder Family Stadium is going to be electric Thursday and there will be few sports fans in Kansas who won’t be tuning in. Also, the Wildcats are carrying the Big 12 banner against the big, bad SEC, which believes it’s the only conference in the country that matters.

Are the Wildcats ready for a game of this stature? Of course, when you have college football’s all-time underrated coach on the sideline, that should be an advantage right there. You can bet Snyder worked 18, 19, even 20 hours a day getting prepared for this game and the Wildcats might pull out a new wrinkle or two since they’ve had 10 days to prepare.

This game also could be a launching pad for Jake Waters’ Heisman Trophy candidacy, though I’m sure that’s the furthest thing on Snyder’s mind. Waters is probably one of the Top 10 quarterbacks in the country, but tucked away in the hills of Manhattan there’s not much made of his ability. A breakout game and it could do for him what a big national game did for Collin Klein a couple of years back.

I have a feeling Kansas State is going to rise to the occasion. I’m still not convinced this Auburn team has the firepower of last year, but it’s still plenty good. A victory and Kansas State could jump into the national consciousness.

• WINE OUT — McPherson High junior receiver-defensive back Spenser Wine will be having shoulder surgery next week, ending his football season.

Wine was just coming into his own. With his size and strength, he was an excellent target for quarterback Kyler Kinnamon. He also had prototype college size for playing the corner.

Wine was coming off a sophomore year in which he came up huge during the basketball season as time and again he provided the Bullpups with a lift off the bench. It’s expected he’ll start this year, but according to MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon, he may not be ready until after Christmas.

The Bullpups do return starters Kyler Kinnamon, Drew Pyle and Nathan Nutter, as well as another top reserve from last year, Avery Gabel. Add in impact Manhattan transfer Payton Stephens and the Bullpups should be able to hold the fort until Wine’s return.

• BIG HOME OPENER — McPherson High’s soccer home opener will finally take place Thursday night when Salina South comes to town.

The Cougars will come armed with some heavy hitters. They are off to a 5-1 start and inflicted a 4-1 beatdown on Maize South on Tuesday. If you’re into comparative scores, the Bullpups were a 4-0 winner over the Mavericks during the Maize South Invitational.

McPherson basically has a brand-new starting lineup, but obviously things are coming together quickly. The Bullpups are 4-1-1, the only loss a narrow 1-0 setback to Hays. Their 3-1 victory at Winfield on Tuesday may have been the high-water mark of the year because the Vikings have been one of the more solid programs the last five years.

MHS played its first six games on the road, but is home-heavy the rest of the way with seven of its last 10 at the friendly McPherson Stadium confines.

• WINSTON TO SIT A HALF— If defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston the poster child for being a knucklehead?

Winston, who already has a litany of transgressions in his two-plus years at Florida State, is being benched for the first half of this week’s crucial game with Clemson after he reportedly stood up in the student union and blathered obscene remarks.

Doesn’t Winston realize that NFL personnel men are taking notice? This adds to his already considerable character issues and his draft stock could take a hit. Time and again he’s proven to be unreliable to his team by getting himself in trouble. The way the NFL is going with its daily police blotter, though, he could probably fit right in.

It’s kind of like cheating. Once a cheater, always a cheater. In this case, once a knucklehead, always a knucklehead.

Kind of sounds like the Chiefs’ Dwayne Bowe, doesn’t it?