MANHATTAN — When playing away from home, the Kansas State football team is unpredictable. It has lost big, lost close and won by blocking a late extra-point attempt.
But at home the Wildcats are completely different.
When taking the field at Snyder Family Stadium this season, they've led almost from start to finish, played stingy defense and won all four of their games. Two by convincing fashion.
Part of that is the home schedule being much easier — Texas A&M is the only Bowl Subdivision team K-State has played in Manhattan with a winning record — but the Wildcats are about to get the chance to prove there truly is something to their home dominance.
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Over the next two weeks, they will close out their home schedule with pivotal games against Big 12 North rivals Kansas and Missouri. Win both games and K-State will go undefeated at home for the first time since 1999. It could also be enough to put the Wildcats in the Big 12 championship game.
"We've played really well at home all season," sophomore safety Tysyn Hartman said. "Our fans have done a great job making it a hostile environment."
That home-field advantage has helped the Wildcats on both sides of the ball. At home they're averaging 38 points compared to 18.4 on the road. On defense, the gap is even wider. K-State is allowing 11 points at home compared to 34.2 at road or neutral venues.
"We have a great crowd and they provide a lot of energy for us, especially for the defense," senior defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald said. "When they get out there and get real rowdy, it gives us extra energy. Going out there and knowing that we have that kind of support, it feels good."
In return, the Wildcats want to send their fans home in a good mood.
All kinds of factors go into their improved play at home this season, but now that they are off to such a good start at home, senior quarterback Grant Gregory says they are motivated to keep that record unblemished.
"That would be awesome," he said. "I've never been on a team that's gone undefeated at home. That's definitely a long term goal for us."