Going out on top
Kansas State wants to end season on high note
Posted: Monday December 21, 1998 04:21 PM
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- The sting of lost national-title hopes and major bowl snubs has passed, Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop said Monday.
Now, he and his teammates are focused on closing out their season with a win December 29 against Purdue in the Alamo Bowl at San Antonio.
"It'd be a great feeling to go out and win your last college game ever," Bishop, this year's Heisman Trophy runner-up, said in a conference call. "Hopefully, this will be the best game of my college career."
That would be a good game indeed, considering Bishop's 47-2 record at Blinn (Texas) Junior College and Kansas State -- and the fact that he's never closed out a college season with a loss.
He led Blinn to back-to-back unbeaten national championships. And last season, he threw for four touchdowns and ran for one more in a 35-18 win over Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl.
"I've never played with a guy who wants to win more than Michael Bishop," guard Jeremy Martin said. "I've never seen a quarterback who can do the things he can do, with the kind of emotion he has.
"Sometimes he gets so wrapped up in the moment that we have to say, 'Hey, Michael -- one play at a time.' He'd score on every play if he could, but that's not the way college football works."
Kansas State (11-1) isn't playing on New Year's Day despite a No. 4 ranking. But Bishop said the Wildcats aren't looking for a big win over Purdue (8-4) to prove they belonged in a higher-profile bowl.
"We don't have to go out and prove anything to anybody," he said. "If we don't go down there and score a lot of points -- oh, well. We still know what kind of team we have."
Some Kansas State players have been in this situation before, and know all too well the danger of overlooking any bowl opponent.
In 1994, Martin was a freshman redshirt on a Kansas State team that thought its No. 8 ranking deserved more than an Aloha Bowl bid -- until the Wildcats lost 12-7 to unranked Boston College.
"I wasn't playing yet, so I can't really speak for all of the players on that team," Martin said. "But the perception was that we didn't want to be there, that we belonged in the Holiday Bowl.
"But instead of blaming the system, we blamed it on the Aloha Bowl. We thought we were so much better than Boston College."
Kansas State has nothing but respect for Purdue, linebacker Jeff Kelly said -- and especially for quarterback Drew Brees, who has thrown for 3,753 yards and 36 touchdowns this season.
"He hits the open man -- and even when they're not open, he hits them sometimes," Kelly said. "He's big, strong, he can run -- he does a lot of things for them."
Brees will face a Kansas State defense burned for 324 yards by Texas A&M quarterback Branndon Stewart in the Aggies' 36-33 double-overtime win in the Big 12 title game.
"After that game, the defense took it upon themselves to get better," Kelly said. "Some guys felt like they let the team down, but we win and we lose as a team. I have no doubt that we'll be ready to play."
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