History is on the line for both No. 4 Oregon and No. 5 Kansas State Thursday night in Arizona, but perhaps more important history is at stake for the Wildcats from Manhattan, Kansas.
In addition to Thursday's matchup marking the first-ever meeting between these two teams, Kansas State is fighting to end a four-game bowl losing streak this January.
Kansas State is gearing up for its third ever Fiesta Bowl appearance on Jan. 3 in Glendale, Arizona. The Wildcats are just 1-1 all-time in Fiesta Bowls, and have not won a bowl game since beating Arizona State in the 2002 Holiday Bowl.
Indeed, Bill Snyder's team is playing for a whole lot this winter.
A win over Oregon would not only end a decade-long bowl drought, but it would mean the school's first Fiesta Bowl championship in 16 years and Kansas State's first-ever 12-win season.
The Wildcats went 11-1 (their current record) under Snyder twice in the late 1990s, finishing 11-1 with a Fiesta Bowl win over Syracuse in 1997, and 11-1 with a Holiday Bowl win over Washington in 1999. However, Snyder's most recent Fiesta Bowl appearance ended in a heartbreaking 35-28 loss to Ohio State in 2004.
That defeat in the Arizona desert began Kansas State's current bowl losing streak, which it can snap with a win over the Ducks on Thursday night.
The 2012 Wildcats have already been celebrated as only the second Kansas State team to win the Big 12 Conference championship since the program joined the conference in 1996, and will perhaps stand alone as the only football team from Manhattan to finish with 12 wins in a single season, pending a Fiesta Bowl title, of course.
A season-ending victory over Oregon would also run Snyder's postseason record to 7-7 overall and give him 171 total wins for his career.
More importantly, though, if Kansas State can stun Oregon on Thursday, this year's team will go down in history as the first Wildcats team to win at least 12 games in a season, and assuming they jump the Ducks, the first to finish in the Top Five of the Coaches Poll at season's end.
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