Following two dramatic wins to close out the regular season in a tie for the fourth place in the Big 12 standings, K-State Nation is heading to Phoenix as Kansas State officials announced today that the Wildcats have accepted an invitation to play UCLA in the 2017 Cactus Bowl on Tuesday, December 26.
The game, which will be K-State’s fourth appearance in the bowl formerly known as the Copper, Insight.com and Buffalo Wild Wings bowls, pits the Big 12 and the Pac-12 and will be played at Chase Field at 8 p.m. CT, with a nationwide television audience watching on ESPN.
“I am very proud of our team and coaches for ending the season with four wins in the final five games and earning a bowl invitation for the eighth straight season,” said Athletics Director Gene Taylor. “We look forward to showcasing our football program and Kansas State University in the Cactus Bowl, and I know our fans are excited to show their outstanding support in Phoenix while our football student-athletes, coaches and staff are provided a first-class experience.”
The Wildcats (7-5) will be playing in their 21st bowl game in school history and 19th under Bill Snyder as the Cats are 8-10 all-time in bowls under the legendary and hall of fame head coach. Following 11-straight bowls from 1993-2003 under Snyder, the Cats have now gone bowling in each of the last eight seasons.
K-State heads into bowl season as one of the hottest teams in the Big 12, winning its final two games over No. 10 Oklahoma State and Iowa State. The Wildcats’ road to the Cactus Bowl began with three wins in their first four games. Three straight close losses dropped the Cats to 3-4 on the year before a Sunflower Showdown win over KU and a thrilling road win at Texas Tech moved the team to 5-4. Following a heartbreaking loss to West Virginia, K-State went on the road to No. 10 Oklahoma State and became the first unranked Snyder team to defeat a Top 10 team on the road before closing the season with a walk-off win over Iowa State to move to 7-5.
“We are proud of the young men in our program for the way they improved throughout the season and very pleased to represent Kansas State University and the Big 12 Conference in the Cactus Bowl,” said head coach Bill Snyder. “The Cactus Bowl is a first-class bowl organization with a rich history, and we appreciate the entire bowl staff for their efforts and support of our program.
“We have a wonderful fan base, and so many people that save throughout the course of the year, and the only vacation they take is the one after our (regular) season is over. They love to attend bowls and it’s why we have such great attendance year in and year out at bowl games. They are fully invested in our program and this means a great deal to them.”
UCLA, K-State’s 2015 Valero Alamo Bowl opponent, enters the game with a 6-6 record. The Bruins hold a 2-1 advantage all-time in the series with the two teams splitting home games in 2009 and 2010 before UCLA edging out a 40-35 win in the 2015 Alamo Bowl.