MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State Athletics) – Riding a three-game winning streak which included a comeback win over West Virginia to become bowl eligible, K-State Nation is heading to Memphis for the first time in program history as Kansas State Athletics Director John Currie announced today that the Wildcats have accepted an invitation to play Arkansas in the 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl on January 2.
The game, one of the most historical bowl games in all of college football that matches the Big 12 and the SEC, will be played at The Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium at 2:20 p.m. CT, with a nationwide television audience watching on ESPN. The Wildcats’ opponent from the SEC will be announced later this afternoon.
“I am very proud of our team and coaches for their resiliency in becoming bowl eligible for the sixth-straight year,” said Currie. “With season ticket holders from 46 different states and a national fan base that features more than 250,000 friends and alumni across the country, we are excited to showcase our football program and Kansas State University in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. I know our fans are excited to again showcase their unprecedented and tremendous support at one of our country’s most iconic destinations, while a week at one of the most tradition-rich bowl games will be a first-class experience for our football student-athletes, coaches and staff.”
The Wildcats (6-6) will be playing in their 19th bowl game in school history and 17th under Bill Snyder as the Cats are 7-9 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 six seasons and will be making the program’s first-ever appearance in the Liberty Bowl.
“On behalf of the Kansas State University family, I am very proud of Coach Snyder, our football team, coaches, staff and fans for displaying such tremendous heart and perseverance this season,” said K-State President Kirk Schulz. “We are very excited to be headed to Memphis and represent the Big 12 in the Liberty Bowl, one of the most longstanding bowls in college football.”
The Wildcats’ road to the Liberty Bowl was one of historic proportions. Sitting at 3-6 with three games remaining, K-State became just the sixth Power 5 team in the 12-game schedule era (2006) to stave off bowl elimination in at least three-straight games (2-6 or 3-6 records) to become bowl eligible. K-State also kept the Governor’s Cup trophy in Manhattan for the seventh straight season under Snyder with a 45-14 win over in-state rival Kansas.
“It is a great honor to host Kansas State University,” said Steve Ehrhart, Executive Director of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. “In the 57-year history of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl we have never had the opportunity to host Kansas State, so we are very proud to have Hall of Fame Coach Bill Snyder and his Wildcats here in Memphis. Under the leadership of President Dr. Kirk Schulz and Athletics Director John Currie, Kansas State is one of the most respected universities in the country. We very much look forward to hosting the Wildcats and their outstanding fans.”
In addition to a Big 12-leading 25 selections to the Academic All-Big 12 team and the No. 1 football Academic Progress Rate (APR) in the Big 12, excitement in Wildcat football was also evidenced by seven sellout crowds at Bill Snyder Family Stadium this season which ran K-State’s consecutive sellout streak to 27 games.
“We are proud of the young men in our program for achieving bowl eligibility and very pleased to represent Kansas State University and the Big 12 Conference in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl,” said Snyder. “The Liberty Bowl is a first-class bowl organization with a rich history, and we appreciate Steve Ehrhart and the entire bowl staff for their efforts and support of our program.
“We have a wonderful fan base, and so many people that save up their nickels and dimes throughout the course of the year, and the only vacation they take is the one after our (regular) season is over. It doesn’t make any difference where it is; they love to go 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 (becoming bowl eligible) means a great deal to them.”
K-State has faced Arkansas five times with the Wildcats holding a 3-2 record in the series, while the last meeting came in the 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl.
The Razorbacks (7-5) finished the season with a 5-2 record in conference play and enters the bowl game with four wins in their last five games.
K-State’s seating allotment for the Liberty Bowl includes a total of 8,000 tickets. All fans who placed a pre-order will receive the number of tickets that were requested. The K-State Athletics Ticket Office will work over the next week to assign specific seats based on the athletic department priority points and mail pre-ordered tickets. Detailed information regarding bowl ticket order fulfillment has been emailed to fans who placed a pre-order.
Public tickets for K-State fans who did not place a pre-order are available now at the K-State Online Ticket Office and through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum or via phone at 1-800-221-CATS between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., on Sunday and beginning again at 8:30 a.m., on Monday. Fans are strongly encouraged to order through K-State’s official allotment to ensure that all Wildcat fans are seated in the official K-State sections of the stadium. The location for K-State’s ticket allotment at the Liberty Bowl is among the best of any bowl game with prime sideline seating locations available for $85. Student tickets, priced at $85, will go on sale at 2 p.m., Wednesday to ICAT members, while all remaining students can purchase tickets beginning Thursday at 8:30 a.m.