The game at Memorial Stadium one week from Saturday pits two coaches who are descendants of the Hayden Fry coaching tree, one direct, the other once removed.
Mark Mangino received his first coaching break from Bill Snyder, who was on Fry's staff at Iowa. Check out who else was on Fry's staff when Chuck Long threw six touchdown passes in the rain in a 55-17 win over Texas in the 1984 Freedom Bowl: Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, Iowa State's Dan McCarney, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops (graduate assistant), and outgoing Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez.
The director of the bowl game then? Tom Starr, now director of the most likely bowl destination for the Jayhawks if they defeat Iowa State: The Forth Worth Bowl.
Fry's old staff calls to mind the Pepper Rodgers KU staff from the late sixties. John Cooper, Terry Donahue, Don Fambrough and Dick Tomey all worked for Rodgers at the same time.
The strength of any good staff, as Snyder can attest, is having loyal assistants who do a better job of showing you the baby than of talking about the labor pains. In other words, they get the job done without telling the world how hard it was to get the job done.
Some feel that Snyder never fully recovered from having his staff raided by Oklahoma and others. Also, an NCAA rule change that prohibited schools from sending private jets to fly recruits into town hurt the Wildcats' recruiting. Now, recruits must fly commercial, then be driven two hours to Manhattan. Except when K-State pranksters decorate Jayhawk billboards with purple paint, that can be a pretty dull ride.
Kansas State 28, Missouri 27: No way the Wildcats don't send out Snyder as a winner, but it's not going to be easy. It never is for one of Snyder's least talented teams in years. It's going to be a three-hour lovefest for the no-nonsense coach.
Texas Tech 37, Oklahoma 30: The winner likely is Cotton Bowl bound, the loser Alamo Bowl bound. How's that for motivation?
Baylor 23, Oklahoma State 20: Baylor running back Palu Mosley doesn't look as fresh running the football as he did early in the season, but with Shawn Bell keeping the defense honest passing the ball better of late, look for Mosley to have a bounce-back game as the Bears knock the Cowboys down from the high they rode after upsetting Texas Tech.
Notre Dame 40, Syracuse 10: Brady Quinn will play in Pro Bowls, but first he will play in bowl games for the Fighting Irish.
Michigan 20, Ohio State 17: Pittsburgh sports columnist Gene Collier awards a Trite Trophy every year for the most overused sports cliche. He then demonstrates the pointless nature of the cliches. One year, the Trite Trophy winner was "when these teams get together, you can throw the record book out the window." Collier went to a school that was half of a big rivalry, opened the second-story window, and threw the record book out. A couple of pages came loose, but it had no effect on the game.
Auburn 28, Alabama 20: You can throw the record book out the window, but if you do, don't say you haven't been warned about a couple of pages coming loose.
(The contest is currently closed. Good luck to all who entered.)