MANHATTAN — For Kansas State's 24 seniors, today's football game against Missouri marks the final time they get to play in front of their fans at Snyder Family Stadium.
Four-year starter Nick Stringer says it's hard to believe this will be his last home game, but he's trying to keep his emotions in check until it's over.
He knows better than anyone this game is about more than saying good-bye.
"We have a chance to do something special," Stringer said. "We just need to take advantage of the opportunity."
With a win over Missouri, the Wildcats will become eligible for a bowl game for the first time since 2006 and finish with an undefeated home record for the first time since 1999. And though they can't clinch the Big 12 North with a victory, it will allow them to do so without winning another game if Nebraska falters.
Coach Bill Snyder regrets that he only got the chance to recruit a few of them, and will never be able to spend a significant amount of time with them.
But he took a few minutes out of his schedule this week to tell his seniors exactly what kind of attitude it takes to win on senior day.
"I have always encouraged our players to cherish the moment and give thought to it during the early stages of the week so that the emotion doesn't hit them all at once on Saturday," Snyder said. "So they have to be able to put it in the right perspective, use that emotion in a very positive way and not let the emotion have a negative impact on their performance."
Senior quarterback Grant Gregory, who has been at Kansas State for only this season, said he will remember those words when he takes the field.
"I've really enjoyed the five games we've had here at home," Gregory said. "The fans have been great. It's going to be an emotional day knowing it's my last home game ever."
It will likely be emotional at some level for Snyder as well. He wants his players to go out with a bang, but he wants to give K-State's fans a lasting memory to enjoy, too.
What better way to do that than to qualify for a bowl game?
"It would certainly be a positive thing for us," Snyder said. "If we are fortunate enough to do that, it would be a good thing for everybody involved with our program."