Kansas State cocky? How about Snyder worried about taking Cornhuskers for granted!

(c) Copyright the News & Observer Publishing Co. and The Associated Press, 1994

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- How confident is Kansas State of beating Nebraska in what could be the biggest victory in school history?

Even coach Bill Snyder is talking about his players not taking the No. 2 Cornhuskers for granted.

"We have great respect for Nebraska, but by the same token, I think our players are confident that they can play well in this game," Snyder said.

"As I told our players ... things are maybe too good right now. There are a lot of positive things going on and we are not in a position to take anybody for granted."

Such is the state of madness around Manhattan, Kan., this week as the No. 16 Wildcats are just eight-point underdogs against the mighty Cornhuskers, an annual national title contender. And to think, just a few years ago Kansas State was the doormat of Division I-A, while Nebraska and Oklahoma battled for Big Eight titles and shots at the national championship.

Now county authorities are bracing for the game. Grocery stores in Manhattan were removing cases of a soft drink called "Big Red," and the Kansas Highway Patrol have been involved in discussions on security and traffic control.

That's a far cry from not so long ago when the parking lot at KSU Stadium was dominated by people wearing red -- people who loved their Huskers, but could not get tickets to sold-out home games in Lincoln.

Most of them were out of luck this time. Only 4,000 tickets were allotted to Nebraska.

"I remember the first time I was interviewed, someone asked me what my goal was," Wildcats co-captain Mike Ekeler said. "I said I just wanted football Saturdays to be like it is in Nebraska. I think we are finally getting to that level."

On Saturday, Kansas State (4-0) will try to end several streaks against Nebraska (6-0). The Wildcats have lost 25 games in a row to Nebraska dating to 1968, and have lost 15 straight at home, dating back to 1959.

But they're coming close. Last year, they trailed 31-28 in the fourth quarter before Nebraska scored two late touchdowns to secure a 45-28 victory.

This time, everything appears to be in Kansas State's favor.

Nebraska coach Tom Osborne is desperate for a quarterback. Tommie Frazier, once a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy favorite, is out for the season with a blood clot. Backup Brook Berringer is recovering from a collapsed lung and is questionable. Next in line is Matt Turman, a sophomore walk-on, followed by Clester Johnson, a second-team wingback who last played quarterback three years ago.

Meanwhile, Wildcats quarterback Chad May has been on target and passed for 379 yards in a 21-13 victory over Kansas on Oct. 6.

"I think our team is fine," Osborne said. "Our players play hard. They will compete no matter who plays quarterback."

Nebraska remains a formidable foe with its usual best-in-the-nation running game.

"The Nebraska rushing game takes it to another level," Snyder said. "Not only are they number one, but they are number one by miles."

Snyder has broken other streaks before since his arrival in Manhattan in time for the 1990 season. During his tenure, the Wildcats broke a 30-game winless streak, a 16-game losing streak, a 30-game road losing streak, a 22-game road losing streak in the Big Eight and a 27-game conference losing streak.

Kansas State was 1-36-1 when Snyder took over. His 18 wins since then are the most since A.N. McMillin won 19 games between 1928-31. The Wildcats were 299-509-41 in 93 years when Snyder took over, the worst record in all of Division I.

Which only adds to the optimism the players feel.

"We don't place limitations on our players," Snyder said. "We're playing at home. We'll have a sellout crowd, which I hope most of them are ours. We understand Nebraska is a truly great football team. We'll have to play as absolutely well as we can play."