There are 93 days until K-State’s 2022 football season kicks off against South Dakota. It is difficult to predict what might happen this fall for the Wildcats without seeing new quarterback Adrian Martinez work under new offensive coordinator Collin Klein, but that has not stopped people from offering their opinions about how the season might go. Some fans think the Big 12 championship is in play, but most neutral observers believe no such thing. Online Sportsbook BetOnline set the over/under win total of the Wildcats at 6.5, which is a far cry from competing for the Big 12 title. Do you fall in the camp of thinking the Wildcats will be contenders, or do you think the 6.5 over/under win total is about right? Or are you somewhere in between?
While I am not sure what to think, I see four games on the schedule that will likely make or break the Wildcats’ season. Win these four games, and the Big 12 championship is in play. Lose these four games, and a lower-tier bowl game is a more likely scenario.
September 10th vs. Missouri
This game intrigues me for a lot of reasons. Missouri is more talented than K-State, but the Tigers are expected to finish near the bottom of the SEC East division. They are also breaking in a new quarterback in 2022, and he is yet to be announced. K-State is also breaking in a new quarterback, but Adrian Martinez has plenty of experience under his belt and should quickly get up to speed. If K-State wins this game, it could set the tone for the season. Win, and it’s considered a marquee win against the SEC that shows the Wildcats are an improved team. Lose, and people will question just how good, or bad, the Wildcats will be. If K-State wins the game, they would be 3-0 going into the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma.
September 24th at Oklahoma
K-State starts off the conference schedule with a road game at Oklahoma. Just how good will the Sooners be? Nobody knows for sure, but the “experts” think Oklahoma is the favorite to win the Big 12. There is no doubt that the Sooners are talented, but with a new coaching staff coming in, this may be an opportunistic time to sneak up on them and snag a victory. A K-State win would provide a lot of positive momentum leading into the following three games at home against Texas Tech, at Iowa State, and at TCU. Lose to Oklahoma, and who knows what might happen. Beat the Sooners, and the next three games all appear winnable. Could K-State be 7-0 going into the Oklahoma State game?
October 29th vs Oklahoma State
Games between the Wildcats and Cowboys are usually close. Looking at past meetings, in years that K-State beats Oklahoma State, the Wildcats tend to finish at or above the Cowboys in the conference standings. When the Cowboys beat the Wildcats, it tends to be a sign that K-State is not a contender and finishes in the middle of the pack in the Big 12. Oklahoma State is coming off an appearance in the Big 12 championship game in 2021, and they look to be solid contenders once again. If K-State can get over this hump in 2022, it will bode well for them.
November 12th at Baylor
Baylor is the defending Big 12 champions, and they are expected to compete for the championship once again even though they are not the favorite to win it. I would feel better about this game if it was at home, but if the Wildcats can get the victory, it will mean that they are ready to take a huge leap forward to becoming conference title contenders.
As Ric Flair famously said, “to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.” If K-State can beat all three of the top contenders in Oklahoma, Baylor, and Oklahoma State, they will be in contention to win the Big 12. Lose these games, and the 6.5 over/under win total for the season is more likely. Chris Klieman’s K-State teams have beaten Oklahoma in the past, but they have not followed it up with enough victories to prove they are contenders. 2022 is the year to prove that they have what it takes.