Is Auburn Game the Biggest at Home in Kansas State History?


Dec 1, 2012; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats fans show their support during the second half of the game against the Texas Longhorns at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kansas State won 42-24. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When the Auburn Tigers and Kansas State Wildcats kick off on Thursday night in Manhattan, Kansas the college football world will be watching. The game will be nationally televised by ESPN, and it will be the only college game in the nation featuring FBS opponents.

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Even better, both programs are ranked in the top 20 in the country. The host Wildcats are ranked 20th in both the AP Top 25 and Amway/USA Today Coaches Poll. Auburn enters the game with a No. 5 ranking – which means the Tigers will be one of the highest ranked non-conference foes ever to visit Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

It’s obviously the game of the night, and it should likely be considered the game of the week – the only other matchup of top 25 teams in Week 4 in No. 1 Florida State and No. 22 Clemson – but is it the biggest home game in Kansas State history?

“I’m really excited for it,” Kansas State linebacker Jonathan Truman told Tim Bisel of the Topeka-Capital Journal in a recent interview. “I think Bill Snyder Family Stadium is going to be rockin’. I’m hoping it’s the loudest it’s ever been here.”

Bill Snyder Family Stadium, named for the Wildcats’ legendary head coach and program savior Bill Snyder, doesn’t compare in size to the mammoth concrete coliseums of the Southeastern Conference. However, the 50,000-plus fans that will pack the structure Thursday will make life just as difficult on the Tigers as the 92,746 in Athens, the 102,321 in Baton Rouge, and possibly even the 101,821 in Tuscaloosa.

“All I’ve heard is that Manhattan is the toughest place to play in the Big 12, so we know we’ve really got to be focused,” Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said late last week. “We’ve been fortunate not to have any false start penalties in the first two games. Your attention to detail and your awareness really has to be raised when you’re on the road in a hostile environment.”

Neutralizing that hostile environment will be a key for an Auburn victory. Since 1990, the Wildcats have won more than 80% of their home games (130-31-1).

“I think (our fans) enjoy whoever we play,” Snyder said, “but quite obviously with someone like an Auburn they’re anxious to see them play.”

But of course, the fans weren’t always anxious to see the Kansas State Wildcats play anyone. Before Snyder came to town, the program was quite possibly the worst in college football history.

In the 93 football seasons at K-State prior to Snyder’s hiring, the Wildcats had won 299 games and lost 510. His predecessor as head coach, Stan Parrish won two games in three seasons, and the team had only been to one bowl game (the 1982 Independence Bowl) ever.

Sep 6, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder yells for a timeout against the Iowa State Cyclones at at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Snyder had spent 13 seasons coaching under Hayden Fry, first at North Texas State and then at Iowa, before taking over the program Sports Illustrated referred to as “Futility U.” It took some time, and Snyder was 1-10 in his first season in Manhattan, but he turned the program into a consistent winner.

In seventeen seasons, which were interrupted by a three-season retirement from 2005-2009, Snyder has a head coaching record of 180-90-1. The school has been to 14 bowl games under his direction and won the Big 12 Conference title in 2003 and 2012. Those league championships marked the first and second for K-State since 1934.

In that time, the Wildcats have played some big home games.

The November 11, 2000 home game against Nebraska holds the attendance record at Bill Snyder Family Stadium ( which was called KSU Stadium at the time). K-State entered the game with an 8-2 record and a No. 16 ranking. The Cornhuskers spent the bulk of the season at No. 1, but had been upset two weeks earlier by Oklahoma and slipped to fourth in the polls prior to the matchup. Still, larger than capacity crowd of 53,811 were on hand that day.

The game is one of the most important in Kansas State history. The Wildcats won 29-28 in dramatic fashion, and would go on to represent the Big 12 North in the league’s championship game. They too fell to eventual national champion Oklahoma, but it was a game that has stood the test of time as the largest collection of people to watch a sporting event in the state of Kansas.

That record could fall this Thursday.

“This will likely be our greatest attended game ever,” Kansas State athletic director John Currie told the Wichita Eagle. “We actually have not sold standing room-only tickets, because we know our student section will be as full as it has ever been that night. Student attendance is highest on weekdays.”

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  • As Lashlee said, it will be a hostile environment – and it will also be the first time the 2014 Auburn Tigers have played away from home. It should also be a very competitive game. Both teams are ranked highly, and both are expected to compete for their respective conference championships. In the first year of the College Football Playoff, a loss will not doom either team, but a win could be a big boost towards a shot at a national championship.

    Add the fact that the weekday matchup will take the Tigers out of their normal weekly routine, and all the extra eyeballs that will be watching on television, and it makes for an exciting matchup that should go down to the wire.

    Expect a new attendance record for Kansas State, and expect the world to watch on ESPN while the rest of college football waits for the weekend. Because of the stage that has been set, and because of the high ranking and national profile the Tigers will bring to the matchup, it very well could be the biggest game in the history of the Little Apple.