Where’d they go?
Large chunks of empty seats were noticeable on Saturday.
That was due, at least in part, to Kansas State and Michigan failing to sell their ticket allotments. Both schools were required to purchase 11,000 tickets from the bowl, but both only sold about half. K-State sold roughly 6,000 tickets, while Michigan sold closer to 5,000.
Both schools returned their unsold tickets to the bowl game, which donated them to schools and military throughout the Phoenix area.
Some football programs lose money — occassionally millions — on bowl games when they are unable to sell their full ticket allotments, but that is not the case for K-State. The Big 12 absorbs all ticket losses before distributing bowl revenue evenly to its 10 members.
The Wildcats weren’t as well represented as they have been at recent bowls, when they requested extra tickets for the Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, but there was plenty of purple in the stadium. Approximately 5,000 fans attended K-State’s pep rally on Friday, and closer to 10,000 K-State fans attended the game.
As Kansas State football players took the field, they were greeted by a life-size image of Pat Tillman, a former Arizona State and NFL player who famously left football to join the United States Army following the September 11 attacks in 2001 and died while in service.
The Sun Devils like to say Tillman leads them onto the field before every game. As the home team in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, he did the same for the Wildcats on Saturday.
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K-State is the only team that has played in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in all three of its locations. The bowl originated in Tucson as the Copper Bowl, moved to Chase Field in downtown Phoenix when it was called the Insight Bowl and then shifted to Sun Devil Stadium.
Twenty K-State seniors played their final game on Saturday. Among them were standout safety Ty Zimmerman, linebacker Blake Slaughter, receiver Tramaine Thompson, running back John Hubert and left tackle Cornelius Lucas.
Though they will be difficult to replace, the Wildcats return the bulk of their roster.