Purdue Faces Tough Opponent in No. 4 Kansas State

December 28, 1998

AP Sports Writer

SAN ANTONIO- They're returning as defending champions, but the Purdue Boilermakers don't expect this Alamo Bowl to resemble the last one.

For one, Purdue beat Oklahoma State in 1997. On Tuesday, the unranked Boilermakers face heavily favored No. 4 Kansas State, which is playing for the first time since a devastating double-overtime loss to Texas A&M in the Big 12 title game.

Naturally, the implications are ominous.

"They will be out to prove a point," predicted Purdue quarterback Drew Brees. "They probably want to go out there and win by the biggest margin they can. ... They are definitely going to be ready to play us."

After the loss to Texas A&M, Kansas State (11-1) got snubbed by bigger bowls, and the disappointed Wildcats accepted an invitation to play Purdue in the Alamo Bowl, the fourth-choice bowl for the Big 12.

Kansas State is the highest-ranked team to play in the Alamo Bowl in its six-year history. Wildcats quarterback Michael Bishop insists his team is past its emotional reaction to bowl selection weekend.

"It's not in our minds right now," Bishop said. "You can't let the bad things keep you from getting out the next day and wanting things to be better."

Purdue (8-4) is appearing in a bowl game for only the second time this decade. Coach Joe Tiller, in his second season at Purdue, led the Boilermakers to a 33-20 defeat of Oklahoma State in last year's game.

Purdue offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said the Kansas State defense - ranked third in the nation in total defense - is the toughest the Boilermakers (8-4) have faced.

"From front to back, they're the best we've played. They are very physical on the play and they attack," Chaney said.

Keys for Purdue will be the passing accuracy of Brees and getting wide receiver Isaac Jones open.

"This game will be a status game for us, that we can complete with the elite teams in college football," said Jones, a senior who is fifth on Purdue's career receptions list with 143 and ninth in receiving yards with 1,665.

Brees, a sophomore from Austin Westlake, has caught the attention of Kansas State coaches and players, who are vowing not to take Purdue for granted.

"They do everything - they're a great passing team, they run the ball well. It's hard to stop them," said Kansas State linebacker Jeff Kelly.

Brees completed 336 of 516 passes (65 percent) for 3,753 yards this season with 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He holds Big Ten season records for attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns.

"We're going to have to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback," added Wildcats defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. "We have to limit his opportunities. If he's on the field, he's strong."

Of course, so is Bishop, the Heisman Trophy runner-up who has been quietly preparing for the Alamo Bowl amid all the talk about Brees and his passing abilities.

Bishop, a senior from Willis, Texas, has never ended a college season with a loss and is 46-2 in his college career at Blinn (Texas) Junior College and Kansas State.

He led Blinn to consecutive undefeated national championships in 1995 and 1996. At Kansas State last season he threw for four touchdowns and ran for another in the Wildcats' 35-18 victory over Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl.

"We feel like we're a team that has accomplished a lot," Bishop said. "We feel like we deserve a lot of respect."




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