September 14, 2007

Staying focused

The question was fair. So was Ron Prince's response. Kansas State faces sixth-ranked Texas on Sept. 29. It gets a bye week before that to strategize and nurse injuries. Asked whether he would begin looking ahead to the Longhorns, Prince replied, "I haven't thought about anything but Missouri State."

Five days before K-State was to meet Football Champion Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) Missouri State for the first time, the Wildcats referenced Michigan nearly as many times as the Bears.

Suddenly, of course, lower-division teams, and the danger they pose to unprepared upper-division teams, have become a hot-button topic.

Prince, who played at Appalachian State and whose Wildcats out-lasted Illinois State 24-23 in his coaching debut last season, perhaps understands the significance of the 6:05 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium better than most coaches in the upper-division fraternity who will face similar-type propositions this season.

"The Illinois State game was a very big game for us," Prince said. "I told (the team) that was a great win. At the time people thought I was a little bit crazy. How extreme the matchup was perceived between Michigan and Appalachian State is what's got everybody's attention, but those of us that understand that level aren't surprised at all."

K-State, 1-1, comes off a 34-14 win over San Jose State. Missouri State, 2-0, comes off back-to-back record-setting contests under second-year Coach Terry Allen, who is no stranger to Manhattan. Allen is 1-5 all-time as a head coach against K-State, including an 0-5 mark while at Kansas. His Northern Iowa team beat K-State 10-8 in 1989 during Bill Snyder's first season.

The Bears, 2-9 last season, beat Division II Missouri-Rolla 62-17 at home and FCS No. 16-ranked Tennessee-Martin 51-44 on the road to record their most points in back-to-back games in program's 96-year history.

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