Whenever Bill Snyder addresses Kansas State fans in a public setting he likes to remind them of a 27-20 victory over Southern California in 2002. The Trojans were ranked 11th at the time, and the Wildcats rode the momentum of that win to an 11-2 record.
But that’s not the reason he brings up the old game. Rather, it’s to remind K-State fans of the impact they can have on a game.
USC didn’t expect much noise when it visited K-State’s 50,000-seat stadium that day, but it encountered thunderous decibel levels. When the game was over, then USC coach Pete Carroll talked up the K-State crowd, describing Snyder Family Stadium as a difficult place to play.
Apparently, that story has made its way to Auburn.
"That’s one of the tougher places to play in college football," Auburn Gus Malzahn said at a news conference earlier this week. "It’s a measuring stick to go on the road against a top-20 team, at their place, in a hostile environment. It will be a huge test. We’ll have to play well to win.
"A lot of our guys experienced some road games last year in hostile environments, and we’re hoping that will help. The difference is this is a new team and we have some new guys and this will be the first time they’ve experienced a road test. From a coach’s standpoint you worry about the noise, but the good thing is our center is back and our quarterback is back. So that will help."
It’s hard to envision Auburn being rattled by any crowd, even one as fired up as K-State’s will be for Thursday’s game. The Tigers regularly play in the mega stadiums of the SEC, where four venues hold more than 100,000 and four more top 80,000.
If you can keep your composure and win at Texas A&M and Tennessee, as Auburn did a year ago, you’re not going to be shocked by anything you see at K-State. And K-State hasn’t exactly dominated this type of big game lately. It hasn’t beaten a ranked nonconference opponent since USC, and it has gone 8-11 against ranked teams since Snyder came out of retirement in 2009.
Still, it’s interesting to hear Auburn’s coach list Snyder Family Stadium as a concern.
The Tigers are showing K-State fans respect the same way Snyder regularly does.
On Tuesday, Snyder was asked if he had a new message for K-State fans heading into Thursday’s game. His reply: "Just be who you are."
"Our fans have always been great and our students have always been great and they do it in a classy manner, as well," Snyder said. "I appreciate that a great deal. (The crowd) can have an impact and it has had an impact here. Though we are small by numbers, comparatively speaking, it still has an impact. I know (the Auburn Tigers) have some concerns, they have indicated that, but they have had experience playing in those 80-90,000-seat stadiums and there is some noise in those as well."