SAN ANTONIO -- He hardly looked like the Heisman Trophy runner-up for most of the game, and his team's pre-game heartache over being shut out of the big-time New Year's bowl games seemed hollow.
In the end, Michael Bishop and the Kansas State Wildcats were stunned last night by unranked Purdue, 37-34, in the Alamo Bowl.
The Boilermakers overcame a talent gap and, finally, themselves to win their second consecutive Alamo title before 60,780 fans -- perhaps 40,000 of them in the purple of Kansas State.
Purdue's sophomore quarterback, Drew Brees, made it official when he marched the Boilermakers 80 yards on a last-chance drive in just 54 seconds. They were down by 34-30, but had driven to Kansas State's 24-yard line, from where Brees floated a pass into Isaac Jones' hands with 30 seconds left for the winning score.
If Kansas State was still heartbroken over a 36-33, double-overtime loss to Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship game, it had to be forlorn now. The Wildcats had scored 14 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes, only to be thwarted by Brees (25 of 53 for 230 yards and three touchdowns).
Kansas State (11-2) has nobody to blame for its free fall from national-title contender to Alamo Bowl loser. Behind Bishop, the Wildcats acted from the start as if they didn't want to be here.
In going through the motions, they collected 125 yards in penalties -- including a fourth-quarter clipping penalty that negated a 63-yard punt return -- turned the ball over seven times and amassed only 308 total yards.
And Bishop, who grew up a few hours from here in the small town of Willis (population 3,500), hardly showed a pulse for his return to Texas. He completed nine of 24 passes for 182 yards with three touchdowns.
He ran for just 7 yards on 20 carries and showed none of the improvisational verve that made him 10th in the nation in total offense with more than 299 yards a game.
But it was his four interceptions, a fumble and a botched handoff that helped the Boilermakers keep the more talented team at bay.
After Purdue's long snapper, Andy Standifer, twice sent the ball over punter Dan Rogers' head -- the second time in the third quarter, when the Wildcats recovered for a touchdown to narrow the deficit to 17-13 -- Bishop and fullback Brian Goolsby muffed an exchange in their end zone.
Boilermakers tackle David Nugent was there to fall on the ball for a touchdown and a 24-13 lead. On the next possession, Bishop fired an interception into the numbers of Purdue safety Billy Gustin -- his second of the night -- and returned it 27 yards to the Wildcats' 11-yard line. Purdue place-kicker Travis Dorsch nailed a 26-yarder for a 27-13 lead.
Still, Kansas State mounted a seven-play, 64-yard drive finished by David Allen's 3-yard plunge to cut the lead to 27-20. But it was the other returning Texan who kept getting off the mat.
Brees, who is from Austin, kept scrappy Purdue (9-4) together with a nervy performance.
Pub Date: 12/30/98