Wildcat First Down: The Last Time… Derek Larson September 15, 2014 Features, Wildcat First Down Mondays at The Salute The introduction to this column has proven burdensome. After all, as a K-State fan, you know what is waiting Thursday night. You know the Auburn Tigers are ranked fifth in the nation. You know that they appeared in the National Championship game last year. And you know that K-State probably would not be playing this game if the Ron Prince years of 2006-2008 (which may or may not be canon in K-State history, depending on whom you ask) had not occurred. You even know that, on the historical scale, this game is huge. A win would be the biggest regular season non-conference victory in program history, and would boost the Wildcats from No. 20 in the nation to being considered major contenders for the conference championship and a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. (Yes, the name needs work. If the same folks had named the Super Bowl, NFL teams would probably fight to compete in the Game With A Trophy at the end of every season.) You know what’s at hand, but the son of a history teacher knows that in order to truly appreciate the present, one must embrace the past. For example, the last time K-State played Auburn was September 1, 2007. As the opening game of season two in the Prince Year trilogy, you may have blocked the 23-13 loss out of your mind. I had. Reviewing the recap today, I’m reminded how the Wildcats had control of the game, leading 13-6 midway through the third quarter. I’m reminded how Prince thought running the ball was evil, as K-State attempted 58 passes, including one by wide receiver Jordy Nelson. I’m also reminded that Bill Snyder deserves about 14 more statues. (Never leave us again, coach!) THE LAST TIME… K-State played a ranked non-conference opponent at home September 21, 2002 — No. 25 K-State 27, No. 11 USC 20 This game can be remembered for a lot of things. K-State, a team with a reputation of devouring cupcakes as appetizers for conference play, knocking off the Trojans. Ell Roberson relieving Marc Dunn at quarterback and scoring a pair of touchdowns. Running back Darren Sproles spinning half the Trojan defense out of their shoes on one play. Linebacker Terry Pierce and crew terrorizing Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer. The foremost image in my mind, however, is that of Terence Newman returning a blocked extra point 98 yards, but running approximately three miles in the process. No matter the route or the distance, it was worth two points, and the Wildcats had a huge victory. THE LAST TIME… K-State played a Top 5 opponent January 3, 2013 — No. 5 Oregon 35, No. 7 K-State 17 Some games have bad omens early. This game had Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas returning the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. Things got better, if one deems “better” as actually tackling a Duck the next time they had the ball. If you’re one of those crazy folks who defines “playing better” as “improving on-field” they didn’t really get better. This Fiesta Bowl was certainly no party. THE LAST TIME… K-State played a “high-visibility conference” non-conference opponent in the regular season September 8, 2012 — No. 21 K-State 52, Miami 13 I’m stealing the “high-visibility conference” terminology from K-State Athletics’ weekly release. I assume they’re referring to the size and stature of the football conference and not the fact that it’s hard to miss a team that combines green with orange. The Wildcats out-gained the Hurricanes 498 yards to 262 and held the ball for over 37 minutes of game-time. With linebacker Arthur Brown operating as the most intimidating shadow one has ever seen, K-State limited Miami to just 1.4 yards per rushing attempt. THE LAST TIME… K-State played a ranked opponent November 23, 2013 — No. 22 Oklahoma 41, K-State 31 I don’t want to talk about it. K-State trailed by just three at the end of the third quarter, but the Sooners ran away in the fourth. Oklahoma tallied 301 rushing yards to K-State’s 24. On the positive side, Tyler Lockett caught 12 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns, setting school records for receiving yards and total offense (440 yards). THE LAST TIME… K-State played on a Thursday night October 14, 2010 — K-State 59, KU 7 Hello, must-see TV. A week after an embarrassing Thursday night loss to Nebraska, Carson Coffman passed for two touchdowns and rushed for three more. The Wildcats averaged nearly seven yards per rush. Kansas’ lone touchdown came in the fourth quarter, which prompted an immediate reply in the form of a 51-yard touchdown tote by some backup QB named Collin Klein. Wildcat Nation slept well that night. While sound slumber is always appreciated, I wouldn’t mind a night when victory-fueled adrenaline keeps me up late. Three days til game time… but you already know that.