Neither Kansas State nor TCU had any inkling they would be in this position eight games into the season.

At 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12, they're staring at the scary reality of a bowl season sitting at home with nowhere to go.

All the more reason why today's 2:30 p.m. game between the Wildcats and Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, has an added sense of urgency. Lose this one and you have to run the table to be bowl eligible.

"This game is huge and all remaining four are huge," K-State junior center Adam Holtorf said. "As always, though, you've got to take it one game at a time and put all your focus on the game you're playing this coming Saturday."

Therein lies the challenge.

Not only must K-State remain focused on the next opponent, but also try to shake off a demoralizing 51-14 loss at Oklahoma last week. TCU, which has dropped three straight, suffered a humiliating 27-26 setback at Kansas.

"One of the things a loss to a Kansas does to you, there's no hiding behind it," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "You lose a close game to Ohio State, you could say this, that and the other.

"But at some point in time you have to say, 'How do you change all this?' "

K-State coach Bill Snyder has wrestled with the same dilemma.

"I don't necessarily have a market on the answer, but it hasn't changed," Snyder said. "It's kind of been there, done that.

"We've been in similar positions before. I think the important thig is not to abort what the basic principles of your program happen to be."

In 2015, the Wildcats lost six straight games to fall to 3-6 and had to win their last three to be bowl eligible. Last year they were 3-4 but closed out by winning four of five, then added a bowl victory.

Their remaining schedule after today's game has them at home against KU (3-5, 1-4) and Texas Tech (5-3, 3-2), before finishing on the road at Iowa State (4-3, 3-2). TCU has road games at No. 12 West Virginia (6-1, 4-1) and Baylor (4-4, 2-3), then close at home against Oklahoma State (5-3, 2-3).

Successful seasons are hard enough, given the amount of work and the long hours, Snyder said. Continuing to battle through adversity adds to the challenge.

"It would be considered to be more taxing if you were not having the kind of success that you felt that you were capable of," Snyder said. "And for me, that's not about the wins and the losses, it's about our youngsters doing as well as they're capable of doing — preparing as well as they can, playing as well as they can.

"I can live with the results if they've done the very best that they can."

Senior Dalton Risner, the Wildcats' all-Big 12 right offensive tackle, was a starter on both the 2015 and 2017 teams that kept K-State's eight-year bowl streak alive with strong finishes. And he's not willing to let go of this season without a fight.

"I don't want anybody to remember my senior class as the class that didn't make a bowl game," he said. "It's very urgent, not just because I'm a senior but because I care about the team.

"I don't want Kansas State not to make a bowl game and I don't want us to be embarrassed."

Ditto for senior wide receiver Zach Reuter. Though like Holtorf, he cautioned against being too focused on the big picture.

"A bowl game can definitely be a motivating factor, but our mindset has to be in the here and now and being able to improve," Reuter said. "Because if you look too far down the road you can get distracted."

Both teams have been hard hit by injuries this season, which hasn't helped their causes. But TCU defensive end Ben Banogu, who ranks third in the Big 12 with 6.5 sacks, wasn't looking for excuses.

"We just need to take the coaching (and) try to improve on the situation," he said following the KU game. "It's going to be hard, but life isn't easy, football isn't easy.

"We have to figure out a way to right the ship and win the last couple of ballgames that we have this year, and at the end of the day I think we'll be all right."

Risner, the three-time team captain, had the same advice for his team.

"It's definitely frustrating, it's tough, and I know that three out of these last four games, we have to get three wins to be bowl eligible," he said. "(But) if we start looking too far forward, we've got a lot of good teams in these next four games that we're about to play and we've just got to take it one game at a time.

"We're going to continue to do that and I think that we're going to find ourselves in a good position here in four weeks."