Yet another college football season is upon us and Bill Snyder’s team is already being dismissed. This year’s Big 12 preseason media poll predicts the ‘Cats to finish seventh in the conference. While Snyder and company still have several question marks that must be addressed heading into the season, a seventh place prediction is just ridiculous.
In fairness, I can actually make sense of why K-State was picked to finish so low. When a team loses quality talent such as Jake Waters, Tyler Lockett, Curry Sexton, B.J. Finney, and Ryan Mueller, the natural thing to do is expect a major setback. But, one doesn’t need to do too much research to discover the preseason media polls are a terrible stock to invest in. Back in 2011, the Wildcats were projected to finish eighth and finished second. Who could forget 2012 when the ‘Cats were picked to finish sixth and managed to win the conference. There’s no denying K-State is a dangerous team in the underdog role and I have reason to believe this season won’t be any different.
The ‘Cats open the season with one of the easiest non-conference schedules in the country, which features home games against South Dakota and Louisiana Tech, as well as a road game against UTSA. With no Auburn or North Dakota State to worry about Snyder can focus on getting the pieces in the right place and finding his new quarterback, which is a 4-man race between Jesse Ertz, Alex Delton, Joe Hubener, and Jonathan Banks. All four candidates have their pros and cons. It may very well take the entire non-conference slate to figure out the starter.
In today’s college football world, strength of schedule has become a hot topic. Snyder has been criticized in the past for turning down games against big time programs, but I understand his stubbornness. The 2015 squad arrives with several new faces and still many questions. While it’s never wise to overlook an opponent, the easier non-conference schedule will serve as a confidence builder and allow the new look ‘Cats to find a rhythm on both sides of the ball. Along with a new quarterback, the offense should be less pass-happy, and more reliant on a strong running game led by junior Charles Jones.
Looking at this year’s conference schedule, I believe the Cats are in prime position to pull off some spectacular upsets against several Big 12 powerhouses. Both TCU and Baylor will visit Manhattan this year and are ranked in the Top 5. according to the USA Today Coaches Poll. Oklahoma, another preseason top 25 team will also pay a visit to the Little Apple this season. These teams will have to face a secondary that will be one of the strongest in the Big 12, led by Danzel McDaniel, Morgan Burns and Dante Barnett. This will create a tough spot for all the pass-first teams on the road.
This favorable home schedule will make for some exciting action under the lights of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. If the atmosphere wasn’t intimidating enough, the new addition to the north end zone and Vanier Family Football Complex will certainly add to that. I expect crowds to be bigger and louder than ever before and the sea of purple will be at high tide.
The pieces are in place for K-State to fly under the radar and take on the underdog role that has led to enormous success in the past. With many new faces this season, most big name media outlets don’t view the ‘Cats as a contender this year. You won’t hear many complaints around Manhattan, Kansas. Wildcat fans have reason to be excited. This season the Cats will once again shock the college football world.
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