It’s time for a bye-week reset of expectations for the Kansas State Wildcats. Despite a 37-31 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, it was great seeing K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson back healthy and leading the Wildcats offense. He was cool, calm, and collected while completing 29 of 41 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Having Thompson back gives me hope that Kansas State can make a bowl game, and maybe even a good bowl game, at the end of the season. With five games down and seven to go, it’s time to do a reset of my K-State preseason predictions, in which I had the Wildcats going 7-5.
Despite not knowing Skylar Thompson would get injured and only play two complete games out of the first five, I still correctly projected the Wildcats to beat Stanford, Southern Illinois, and Nevada and lose to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. K-State sits at 3-2 and it could be argued that they have already played the most difficult games on their schedule. Texas still looms to end the season, but every other game looks winnable at this point. Let’s take a look a the game-by-game schedule the rest of the way to see where K-State might end up.
Iowa State in Manhattan on October 16
Iowa State has had a disappointing start to the year, losing to Iowa and Baylor to stand at 3-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play. What I considered an unlikely win at the beginning of the season for K-State now looks like a very winnable game. This one might end up deciding which team finishes fourth in the conference standings.
At Texas Tech on October 23
This game looks like it might be more difficult than it did at the beginning of the season. Tech is 4-1 with victories over Houston and West Virginia. They did get hammered pretty good by Texas, 70-35. This game is winnable but will be difficult.
TCU in Manhattan on October 30
TCU has been a bit disappointing so far. They have a 2-2 record, with losses to SMU and Texas and victories against Cal and Duquesne. The TCU game is still a very winnable one for the Wildcats.
At Kansas on November 6
KU is still looking a lot like the KU of old. Their offense looks better, but the defense can’t stop anybody. It should be an easy victory for the Wildcats, no matter who is playing quarterback.
West Virginia in Manhattan on November 13
West Virginia has started 2-3 on the season with losses to Maryland, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech by a combined 12 points. Virginia Tech is their best win. I predicted a loss to West Virginia before the season started, but I think this one has turned into a very winnable game.
Baylor in Manhattan on November 20
Baylor has started 4-1, but their biggest victory was a close win against Iowa State. I still think this will be a win for K-State.
At Texas on November 26
Texas is 4-1, but they had a bad loss to Arkansas in their second game. I believe this is the only probable loss left on K-State’s schedule.
If Skylar Thompson stays healthy and the K-State defense can shore up some things and become a more consistent unit, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Wildcats go on a winning streak and arrive in Austin for the Texas game with a 9-2 record. Will it happen? It’s probably not likely, but it’s still a fun possibility to think about. Depending on how things go, they could also lose any game left on the schedule other than Kansas. But they’re not out of it yet. Assuming Skylar Thompson stays healthy, I think they’ll get to 8-4, which would be quite a turnaround from what happened last season.