Kansas State and Michigan have been playing college football collectively for 236 years. Yet when the two old-school programs collide at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28 in the 25th Annual Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, it will mark their first meeting. Michigan makes its first Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl appearance. For K-State, it’s a third trip. In 2001, it lost to Syracuse, 26-3, then in 1993, it defeated Wyoming, 52-17.
The blue-blood Wolverines are completing their 134th season of college football. They boast 910 all-time wins, the most of any institution at any level of college football. Their .733 all-time winning percentage also leads the nation. The program boasts 42 bowl appearances, 11 national championships, 3 Heisman Trophy winners, 11 national award recipients, 36 College Football Hall of Fame members and 339 NFL draft picks. Michigan is appearing in its fourth consecutive bowl game and its 37th in the last 39 years.
Kansas State has been playing college football for 102 years. The Wildcats are appearing in their fourth consecutive bowl game and 15th in the past 20 seasons. It has tallied points in 215 consecutive games, the 10th-longest streak in the nation and the lengthiest in the Big 12. KSU has not been shut out since November 16, 1996. The Wildcats will be playing in their 18th bowl game, a list that includes last year’s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Since 1999, K-State leads the nation in non-offensive touchdowns (91).
This year, the 7-5 Wolverines climbed as high as 11th in the Associated Press poll and 12th in its USA Today counterpart, both in week three. Overall, they spent nine and 10 weeks ranked in the two polls, respectively. Michigan was 1-2 against ranked opponents, including a victory vs. No. 14 Notre Dame on September 7. UM’s offense ranked third in the Big Ten in pass efficiency (143.5) and fourth in scoring (33.8 ppg) and passing offense (252.1 ypg). Michigan scored 40 or more points six times. The Wolverines’ defense ranked second in the Big Ten in interceptions (17), fourth in pass defense efficiency (119.2) and fifth in rush defense (139.4 ypg). Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon set single-game school and Big Ten record with 369 receiving yards against Indiana on October 19. In the same game, quarterback Devin Gardner set records with 584 yards total offense and 503 passing yards. Tight end Devin Funchess logged 727 receiving yards, a single-season record for Wolverine tight ends. He led Big Ten tight ends in receptions (47), yards and touchdowns (6) and among all FBS tight ends, he ranks third in receiving yards, fourth in catches and tied for sixth in touchdowns.
Kansas State qualified for its fourth consecutive bowl appearance with grit, perseverance and resiliency. After starting the season 2-4, the Wildcats won four straight conference games to become bowl eligible, then ended their season with a fifth-straight victory over in-state rival Kansas to finish 7-5. K-State’s five losses were by 10 points or less, and the Wildcats held fourth-quarter leads in three of those contests. Along the way, KSU became just the fourth school in Big 12 history to become bowl eligible after starting a season 2-4. Only eight percent of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) era (48 of 597) have started a season 2-4 or worse and become bowl eligible prior to the 2013 Wildcats. All-America candidate Tyler Lockett has paced KSU’s offense that averages 33.4 points per game. Lockett, a dynamic wide receiver and kick returner, ranks among the nation’s leaders at both positions. The Wildcats bring a two-quarterback system to Arizona — junior Jake Waters (2,198 passing yards, 15 touchdown passes) and sophomore Daniel Sams (11 rushing touchdowns, 4 touchdown passes). Running back John Hubert is just 32 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards this season.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com project Kansas State as a mere 0.42-point favorite for the 3rd-closest forecasted margin of the 35 postseason games.