87 Days To K-State Football Kick-Off: The 1987 Toilet Bowl

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The final boxscore was befitting of the circumstances: KU recorded 296 yards of offense to K-State’s 286, and each team had four turnovers. Ugly. Yet with just over a minute left to play, K-State moved the ball to the KU 23 yard line. With the game tied at 17 and the Wildcats just outside the red zone, a touchdown looked possible and at minimum a field was sure to win the game. However, this is Futility U we’re talking about, so naturally the team threw an interception in the end zone with 75 seconds left to give KU one last chance to take home another Governor’s Cup Trophy.

Fortunately for K-State, KU was just as determined to show off its suckitude as the Wildcats were. After driving to the 41 yard line, a bad snap from the shotgun formation was recovered by K-State at the 31. A personal foul was tacked on to the play, giving K-State the ball at the 16 with 36 seconds to play. Now, fans at the game were used to disappointment, but there’s no way the team screws the pooch on this opportunity, right? Right? RIGHT???

Wrong. When K-State lined up to kick a field goal as time expired, KU (lamely) called a timeout to ice the kicker, and then trotted out its Geronimo formation (kids, don’t try this at home). Geronimo was KU’s name for its inside rush play, where the two defensive tackles knock down the center, leaving a hole for another player (in this case, 6-4 safety Marvin Mattox) to leap through and do something awful. Like block the kick and leave the Toilet Bowl mired in a 17-17 tie.

I was about 18-months-old when the Geronimo Play went down, but that doesn’t mean I can’t comment on how insane it was. Mattox was labeled doubtful for the game due to a neck injury – the type of thing launching off your teammates and into the air is not prescribed as a cure for. Asked about it after the game, he responded, “”Yeah, it’s dangerous, but I didn’t care. I just wanted the ball. Half the time you do it, you land on the back of your neck.”

In a game surrounded by the surreal from early riot preparations to the final whistle, the lasting quote from player with a neck injury offering his mobility on a silver platter to the football gods in exchange for salvaging what would ultimately be a 1-9-1 campaign couldn’t have been more apropos. It’s absolutely insane, and unconscionable to my co-workers out here on the East Coast. It’s also the reason that, even if K-State comes into the game a 50-point favorite this year, I will watch every second of this year’s game. So here’s to 87 days until Kansas State football, and 179 days until the 111th meeting of these two teams on the gridiron.

To work backward in the countdown, visit 88 days, where we examine 2014 recruit Dalton Risner – the #3 player in Colorado and the #3 center in the nation.