October 18, 2006

Wildcats must produce in red zone

As Kansas State seeks its first win on the road in the Big 12 Conference against a No. 24-ranked Missouri team that hasn't lost at Faurot Field in more than a year, senior middle linebacker Zach Diles, tip-toeing the sideline, will once again become the biggest cheerleader for an offense that three-fourths of the way through the season continues to fight the red zone blues.

The Wildcats have failed to score in double figures three times in four games for the first time since 1986. Their point total (135) is next-to-last in the league and the fewest they've posted to this point in the 13 years. In the history of the Big 12, only one team (Texas Tech in 1997) has failed to score in double figures three times in four games and has finished with a .500 record.

With five games remaining, the Wildcats, 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the Big 12, still have time to resurrect their season coming off a 21-3 loss to No. 21 Nebraska, their second loss in three league bouts. But they will get a tough task at 1 p.m. Saturday when they face the Tigers, 6-1 and 2-1, in a series that the Wildcats have won 13 straight times.

This time, it appears history could be on the Tigers' side. An unranked K-State team hasn't upset a ranked Missouri team since it posted a 17-13 win over the No. 17-ranked Tigers in 1970. In order to have a shot at duplicating that feat, the Wildcats must forget their recent history of ineffectiveness inside the 20-yard line.

To this point, two things have most glaringly stood in the way of the Wildcats' success: 1) reaching the red zone and 2) one inside the 20 issuing the knockout blow, the touchdown, which has eluded them 15 times in 19 trips deep inside opponents' territory.

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