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Now K-State must beat Huskers

(c) 1995 Copyright The News and Observer Publishing Co.
(c) 1995 Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (Oct 20, 1995 - 03:18 EDT) -- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has turned a perennial loser into an undefeated, eighth-ranked defensive powerhouse looking for a Fiesta Bowl bid. Up next for the Wildcats is a 26-year jinx.

Kansas State hasn't beaten Nebraska since 1968 but no Big Eight Conference team has played the Cornhuskers closer over the last four years. Nebraska has beaten Kansas State by 49 total points over that span -- fewer than Colorado (66) and Oklahoma (53).

Both teams are 6-0 overall, 2-0 in league games. Kansas State is enjoying its highest ranking ever and its best start since 1910. So why is No. 2 Nebraska a 25-point favorite?

"They are a tremendous option team," said Snyder, who is 0-6 against Nebraska. "You play the option and you're thin against the tailback. Then there's the play-action pass. You get stretched trying to defend it all. I'm not sure that anybody is ever ready for the Nebraska offense."

This year's Kansas State defense is as ready as any. No team allows fewer yards and points (199.8 and 7.5). The big test will be Nebraska's NCAA-best rushing attack (466.3 yards per game) against Kansas State's eighth-ranked rush defense (94.8 allowed).

"We won't do anything differently," Nebraska tackle Eric Anderson said. "We prepare for Colorado, Pacific and Kansas State the same way. But they have a tremendous defense. It will be a challenge."

Leading the way for Kansas State is linebacker Percell Gaskins with 50 tackles. Defensive end Dirk Ochs has seven of the team's 18 sacks and sophomore Chris Canty four of the six interceptions.

The stingy defense for Kansas State has come against Temple, Cincinnati, Akron, Northern Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma State.

"We obviously haven't played anybody of Nebraska's caliber," Snyder said. "This will be a big step up."

Running the Nebraska offense will be senior quarterback Tommie Frazier, who is 26-1 in regular-season starts. He has not lost a Big Eight game since 1991, his freshman year, and has improved his completion rate this season to 52 percent with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

"I think it's a test to prove how good our offense is overall -- rushing the ball and throwing the ball," said Frazier, who has also ran for nine scores. "We know we're going to have a hard time running against them, but we need to see if we can go out and throw against them."

Kansas State quarterback Matt Miller has thrown well. The senior has completed 67 percent of his throws with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Three receivers average more than four receptions per game, led by Kevin Lockett's 27 catches for 428 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Wildcats average 203.2 yards rushing and 236.7 passing.

"It seems that they try to balance their offense and there's less drop-back passing," Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. "There's more variety to it. They give you a few more looks."