BOULDER, Colo. -- Moments after the Insight Bowl made its statement - "We're very interested," representative Win Holden said - Kansas State behind true freshman Josh Freeman made one of its own. The Wildcats used their highest-scoring second and fourth quarters of the season to sink Colorado 34-21, sending the Buffaloes to their worst record in 22 years and lifting the Wildcats to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2003.
The Wildcats, 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the Big 12 Conference, became the seventh league team to reach the magical number of six wins, as Ron Prince joined Bob Stoops and Mike Leach as the third first-year Division I-A head coach new to their program to lead their team to bowl eligibility in the history of the Big 12.
By the time the final seconds ticked off the clock and running back James Johnson ended the game by plowing through the middle for two yards, leaving the Wildcats one yard short of scoring their fifth touchdown, Folsom Field had taken on a purple hue. An estimated 4,000 purple-clad fans celebrated in the stadium, many pressing close to the ramp to watch and yell for Freeman, their hero who had just completed the finest game of his young career.
"It means a lot," Freeman said. "We come out every week with the intention of putting together a game like that and having a level of being unstoppable on the field. Today, they had a really tough time stopping us and we took advantage of that and put some points on the board. That allowed our defense to kind of cool off and they were there when we needed them. It was an overall team effort."
The 6-foot-6, 238-pounder who had trouble in his previous two starts on the road, completed 22 of 26 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns. That included 15 straight completions between the first and fourth quarters, which contributed to his 84.6-percent completion percentage. It was the highest rate of completions by a K-State quarterback since Brian Kavanagh (86.4) in 1996.
A smile, a handshake, a high-five -- seemed everyone in Wildcat Nation afterward wanted a piece of Freeman.
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