LAWRENCE — To a man, the Kansas State Wildcats understand that a victory over Kansas on Saturday in the Sunflower Showdown would have greater implications than simple bragging rights.
Knock off the Jayhawks for the 11th straight time in the 2:30 p.m. game at Memorial Stadium and they'll gain back what they lost a year ago — bowl eligibility.
But the Wildcats, who take a 5-2 record and a two-game winning streak into the rivalry game, have differing opinions on just what a sixth victory means in the short term.
"It's big," said senior defensive tackle Trey Dishon. "Everybody's looking at that."
Perhaps so. But not just yet.
"I haven't even thought about it," said quarterback Skylar Thompson. "Going into this season, I'm just not going to try to win six games and just being bowl eligible.
"Our standard here is much higher than that, so honestly I haven't even thought about that. It would be cool to knock off the list, but I honestly don't care that much about that."
Ditto for senior offensive tackle Scott Frantz.
"You always want to go to a bowl game. That's an amazing opportunity, especially as a senior," he said. "But honestly, bowl games aren't even on my mind right now — six games.
"I don't want to have a six-win season. Six wins isn't the mark for this team. We want to win more than that. (But) if the time comes and we're playing in a bowl game, I’m going to be really thankful and really grateful, for sure."
The Wildcats saw an eight-year postseason streak end last year with a 5-7 record. So for redshirt freshman tight end Sammy Wheeler, it may mean a little more.
"I've never been to a bowl game because last year was my redshirt freshman year," Wheeler said. "I've never experienced that, and that would be a huge thing for all of us.
"That would be a super awesome experience. That's one of our goals."
Dishon, who has played in two bowl games and been a part of a third his redshirt year, tempered his enthusiasm some.
"I know one thing we're looking at is just taking it one game at a time," he said. "That kind of sounds cliché, but that's how we got the win versus Oklahoma (last week), was preparing one day at a time.
"Then Saturdays take care of themselves. If we do that this week, I think we could get bowl eligible by Saturday."
That all starts with Saturday's rivalry game.
"I just want to go win and put ourselves in a situation to be successful moving forward," Thompson said. "We have a high standard here at K-State and we've got to (meet) that standard and hold each other accountable to it.
"The coaches are going to hold us accountable to it, as well. Obviously it's a huge accomplishment to be bowl eligible this week, but that's not my focus at all. Going to beat KU, that's where my mind's at."