MANHATTAN, Kan. — Before Kansas State 's football team took the practice field one day last week, coach Bill Snyder gave the players a pep talk in the form of a question.
"How many of you have won a bowl game?" Snyder asked while addressing the Wildcats in the locker room.
"Nobody raised their hands," sophomore receiver Tyler Lockett said. "That's great motivation for us, because none of us know what it feels like to end the season with a win."
It's been a long time since K-State won its last bowl game, defeating Arizona State 34-27 in the 2002 Holiday Bowl. So long that some of its current players hadn't started playing organized football. The Wildcats have lost four bowl games since.
Snyder coached in three of those. The seniors on this roster played in two, falling 36-34 to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl two years ago and losing to Arkansas 29-16 in the Cotton Bowl last season. Their motivation stems only from recent defeats, but that is more than enough to provide added incentive as they prepare for Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
"Nobody here, myself included, has won a bowl game," senior quarterback Collin Klein said. "That's another huge thing. We talk about being tough and finishing off all the time, this is our chance to prove it. It's huge."
There are several reasons for K-State's less-than-stellar play in the postseason. The Wildcats were underdogs to Ohio State the last time they played in the Fiesta Bowl and again to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. The Wildcats were still in rebuilding mode in the Pinstripe Bowl. Before that, Snyder was 6-4 in bowl games.
K-State players hope they have what it takes to win. At the moment, they certainly have the motivation.
"It motivates us a lot," safety Jarard Milo said, "especially for the seniors. For us to be 0-2 in bowl games with a challenge coming up like this, it gives us something to really prepare for."