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For our next installment of the 100 day countdown to kickoff against North Dakota State University, 93 days represents the year 1993, the first year Bill Snyder led K-State to a bowl game. That Copper Bowl win over Wyoming would become the first of eleven straight bowl game appearances in the greatest run K-State football has ever experienced.
K-State exploded onto the national stage in a big way in 1993, losing only two games and finishing the regular season ranked 20th in the country. The effort was sufficient to earn a trip to the Copper Bowl (now known as the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Arizona), where the team trounced Wyoming 52-17 in front of 49,000 in attendance at Sun Devil Stadium as well as a national audience on ESPN.
1994 was supposed to be a big year, with Chad May ready to dominate his senior season, and the team’s only regular season losses were to #1 Nebraska and #3 Colorado. However, the team came out deflated in Hawaii and fell to Boston College, 12-7.
If 1994 was big, 1995 was even bigger, with the Wildcats finishing in the top 10 in both polls (sixth in the Coaches, seventh in the AP) and 10-2 on the year. K-State earned an invitation to the Holiday Bowl and jumped out to a 26-7 halftime lead over Colorado State, coasting the rest of the way to a 54-21 victory.
1996 was the first year of Big 12 play. The addition of the Southern Division simply gave K-State more conference victories, but the team once again fell to Nebraska and Colorado while finishing 6-2 in conference play. The Wildcats were invited to the Cotton Bowl that year to take on #5 BYU, the school’s first appearance in a traditional New Year’s Day bowl game. K-State dominated for three periods and took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell 19-15 when its final drive ended in an interception.
1997 was the school’s crowning acheivement to that point. Another loss to Nebraska kept the Wildcats shut out of the Big 12 title game, but they defeated Colorado 37-20 to get over the Boulder hump and finish 10-1 in the regular season, which earned the team its first BCS bowl birth. The Wildcats proceeded to jump all over #14 Syracuse and secured a 35-18 victory.
1998 was the most heartbreaking season K-State has ever endured. You can read more about it here, but it’s simply too painful to recount on this page.
In 1999, K-State once again finished in the top ten and tied with Nebraska for first in the North, although the Huskers went on to defeat Texas in the Championship Game by virtue of head-to-head tiebreaker. The Wildcats would accept a date with Washington in the Holiday and win, 24-20.
The 2000 team finished with the school’s third straight top-ten ranking and second Big 12 Championship Game appearance, where the team fell 27-24 to #1 Oklahoma. Although suffering three losses on the year, a victory over #4 Nebraska and strong showing against Oklahoma earned another Cotton Bowl invitation, although there was considerable frustration surrounding the fact that the team had now won 11 games in four straight years yet only owned one BCS Bowl invitation. Snyder allowed team members to vote on whether to accept the invite, which they unanimously did, and K-State went on to defeat Tennessee 35-21.
2001 was a rematch of the 1997 Fiesta Bowl against Syracuse, although this meeting was missing much of the luster of the first game. While Syracuse was the #18 in the nation, K-State had suffered its first losing record in the Big 12. The team appeared significantly overmatched throughout the game while falling to the Orangemen 26-3.
The team bounced back strongly in 2002, enjoying a victory over #11 USC before conference play began while finishing 6-2 in the conference. Terrell Suggs and the Arizona State Sun Devils did their best to harass Ell Roberson all game, but the quarterback led a fourth quarterback comeback and K-State scored the final 14 points of a 34-27 victory.
2003 was the last of 11 straight bowl games for K-State, and quite possibly the most exciting year of the streak. Three early season losses dropped the team from #7 in the preseason to unranked until the final regular season game against Missouri. A victory against the Tigers propelled the Wildcats to the Big 12 Championship to take on #1 Oklahoma in a game few outside the state gave Bill Snyder a chance to win. However, K-State demonstrated it belonged in the consideration of best teams in the nation as it controlled the Sooners from start to finish, taking home a 35-7 victory and first conference title. The year ended in another visit to the Fiesta Bowl against BCS #5 Ohio State. K-State had enjoyed an average score of 39-9 during its seven game win streak, but the night before the game starting quarterback Ell Roberson was accused of sexual assault which became both an embarrassment and distraction to the team. Ohio State jumped out to a 21-0 lead and halted a fourth quarter comeback attempt, recovering an onside kick with three minutes left to secure a 35-28 win.
2003 was the last year of a magical run, as the team finished with a losing record in two subsequent years which preceded the retirement of Bill Snyder. However, with three straight bowl games and a top 25 ranking headed into 2013, the program appears primed to make another run at double digit straight bowl appearances.
To work backward in the countdown, visit 94 days, where we examine one of K-State’s best quarterbacks of all time in Chad May.