Over the coming days, we will have some fun ranking the top 10 non-conference games in the 2020 Big 12 football season. Of course, we have no clue what the 2020 college football season is going to look like and how the schedule is going to play out, but as we approach the dog days of summer, let’s long for some cooler weather, cold beer and pigskin and look forward to these 10 non-conference games as we count them down from No. 10 to No. 1!
No. 6: Kansas State vs. Vanderbilt
As Kansas State fans will recall, the 2017 road loss to Vanderbilt (14-7) was an ugly one that at the time was a sign that maybe the season wasn’t going to go as planned (however the Wildcats did have a nice late-season push).
But this game will be telling for several reasons. First off, while it’s not Oklahoma vs. LSU, it’s still the Big 12 vs. the SEC, which always has implications worth watching. Vanderbilt finished last in the SEC last season, so for Kansas State, which should be at least a middle-of-the-pack team in the Big 12, a loss would give the SEC crowd plenty to crow about if one of its bottom feeders handles a solid Big 12 team on the road.
But for Kansas State, it’ll be the first chance we get to see what the new offensive line looks like against decent competition (sorry Buffalo and North Dakota), or at least Power 5 competition.
Vandy brings in new coordinators on both sides of the ball under Derek Mason with Todd Fitch (Louisiana Tech) on offense and Ted Roof (Appalachian State) on defense. Also, they are looking for an answer at quarterback and lost a ton of production at the skill positions while also needing to turn over the offensive line.
It’s very early, but this is a game that Kansas State should win, if it’s going to keep its momentum from last season, Chris Klieman’s first in Manhattan. It will at least give us a glimpse into how we should categorize Kansas State in 2020: a team that can surprise top-tier programs like it did last season or one that will take a step back as it replenishes lines on both sides of the ball.
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