Kansas State to meet Alabama in Sugar Bowl

Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman holds the trophy after Kansas State defeated TCU in the...
Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman holds the trophy after Kansas State defeated TCU in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)(LM Otero | AP)
Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 1:43 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (Release) - Fresh off a 31-28 overtime victory in the 2022 Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship, ninth-ranked Kansas State earned a bid into the 89th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl and will face No. 5 Alabama on Saturday, December 31, inside Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana as the College Football Playoff Selection committee announced the New Year’s Six Bowl matchups on Sunday. The game will kick off at 11 a.m., and be shown on ESPN.

K-State’s No. 9 ranking in the final College Football Playoff Top 25 of the season is its highest for a final ranking since the CFP began in 2014.

“We are excited to represent the Big 12 Conference in the Allstate Sugar Bowl,” said K-State head coach Chris Klieman, who led the Wildcats to a Big 12 Championship in his fourth year with the program. “I am really proud of our team, especially our seniors, and our staff for their resolve this season. A lot of people doubted this team throughout the year, and they just continued to put their heads down and go to work every day. We look forward to heading to New Orleans for the first time in school history and preparing for a great team in Alabama.”

The Wildcats (10-3) are among the nation’s leaders in bowl appearances since 1993 as they are tied for 16th nationally and rank fourth in the Big 12 with 23. K-State will also be one of just 19 Power 5 teams to play in a bowl game at least 11 times in the last 13 years. The Wildcats are looking for a second-consecutive bowl win and four victories in the last five appearances after winning the Texas Bowl over LSU, 42-20, in early 2022. It would be the first time the Wildcats won four bowl games in five tries in school history.

“We are excited to head to New Orleans as Big 12 Champions,” said Athletics Director Gene Taylor. “Congratulations to Coach Klieman and our team for a phenomenal season, and now we look forward to showcasing our football program and Kansas State University in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. We had an amazing crowd yesterday in Arlington, and I know our fans will continue to uphold their national reputation for traveling to bowl games when we head to New Orleans later this month.”

The Wildcats and Crimson Tide will play for the first time ever. It will mark the sixth time K-State will face an SEC team in bowl play, including the second-straight season. The Wildcats are 3-2 in their previous five games against SEC opponents in bowl action, including two-straight victories over LSU (2021) and Texas A&M (2016) in the Texas Bowl.

Kansas State’s championship season began with a 2-1 mark in non-conference play before the Wildcats won their first three Big 12 contests – including a 41-34 victory at then-No. 6 Oklahoma. K-State suffered a loss at No. 8 TCU, but it responded with a resounding 48-0 blanking of then-No. 9 Oklahoma State. Following a setback the next week against Texas, the Wildcats rattled off three-straight wins to close out the regular season – a 31-3 victory at Baylor, a 48-31 triumph at West Virginia and a 47-27 victory over Kansas to earn their 14th-straight Governor’s Cup win.

The Wildcats held a 28-17 lead in the fourth quarter of the 2022 Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship, but TCU – which will play in the College Football Playoff National Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl right after the Allstate Sugar Bowl – came back to tie the game and send it to overtime.

The Horned Frogs started overtime with the ball but came up empty twice from the one-yard line to end their possession without any points. The Wildcats gained 12 yards on their overtime possession – including a rush to center the ball – and Ty Zentner connected on a 31-yard field goal to send K-State to its fourth ever conference championship and first since 2012.

Alabama finished just outside the top four following its 10-2 season, which included narrow losses at Tennessee (52-49) and at LSU (32-31), the latter coming in overtime. The Crimson Tide will be playing a Big 12 opponent for a second time this season as they won at Texas, 20-19, on September 10. It will be the first time Alabama will play a Big 12 team in a bowl game since taking down Oklahoma, 45-34, in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Orange Bowl.