So many years of putrid rivalry football. It seems so long ago, doesn't it?
Kansas University and Kansas State's football teams battle it out again Saturday at Memorial Stadium. And the fact that the outcome isn't a bank-vault lock is a welcome sight for a rivalry that was so : well, so terrible for so many years.
"For a long time, there wasn't a lot of interest in this game," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "College football fans in the state of Kansas are more excited about the game than they've been in a long time. It makes for a good environment."
Memorial Stadium is nearing a sellout. Both teams are on winning streaks and coming off impressive offensive-powered victories. And both teams have a shot at being bowl-eligible, with K-State already securing seven victories.
The outlook was bleak for an anticipated showdown a month ago. But Kansas State's 45-42 victory over No. 4 Texas on Friday only added to the hype.
The nine-game stretch from 1995-2003? Blowouts, every year. The last two games in this series were close, but neither was late enough in the season to have this much at stake.
This season, it's supposed to be tight - and critical.
"The situation is such," Mangino said, "where it's a big game for both teams."
And it has arrived with both programs coming off very different - yet beneficial - weekends at home.
Saturday passed quietly for the Jayhawks, who didn't play after 10 straight weekends of games. Mangino said the bye week came at a "perfect" time because of the much-needed rest the Jayhawks got.
Kansas State, meanwhile, created quite a big boom Saturday, celebrating its biggest victory in three seasons over the defending national champion Longhorns. The Wildcats used trickery, perseverance and just a good offensive attack to stun Texas and kick the Longhorns out of discussions as to who will play in the BCS national championship game.
It's understandable to assume Kansas State supporters still are celebrating days later. But KSU coach Ron Prince doesn't expect his players to do anything but look ahead to Saturday's game.
Pretty soon, the rest of the state will be, as well.
"They're at full attention because of who the opponent is," Prince said of his squad. "We try to make the case here that in our minds, November is like the playoff race.
"That was a really nice win for us. I'm sure that everyone who's watching it and all the pundits will jump to a lot of conclusions. But around these parts, we're pretty focused on this opponent."