Kansas State Wildcats

K-State Football: Predicting Every Game on the 2023 Schedule

T-minus 44 days until K-State kicks off the 2023 college football season against Southeast Missouri State University. It is time for my annual game-by-game preview and predictions for the upcoming season.

I correctly predicted K-State’s record in the last two years. In 2021, I predicted K-State to finish 7-5, and in 2022, I predicted a 9-3 finish. Both predictions were right on the money. Am I good or just lucky? You be the judge. Before I get started, I have to say that I am a bit surprised that the media picked K-State to finish in second place in the Big 12. While I can see it happening should everything go right, there are a lot of pieces to replace from last year’s championship team to assume the Wildcats will be right back in the position where they ended last season. Here is a game-by-game look at the 2023 season, with my predictions about how things may go.

 

Southeast Missouri State (Sept. 2)

Southeast Missouri State competes in the FCS as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. They finished 9-3 last season, with an undefeated 5-0 record in the conference. They qualified for the FCS playoffs, losing in the first round to 17th-ranked Montana. They return one of the best running backs in the FCS division, Geno Hess, and should contend again to win the Ohio Valley Conference. This game is not a gimme by any means, but as long as K-State doesn’t overlook SEMO, they should win the home opener.

Prediction: Win, 1-0

Troy (Sept. 9)

Troy won the Sun Belt Conference last season with a 12-2 overall record, 7-1 in conference play. They finished the season beating UTSA in the Cure Bowl, and finished number 19 in the final AP poll. They are one of the favorites to win the league again, as quarterback Gunnar Watson returns to lead the team.

Side note: Is there a better quarterback name than Gunnar? I am not sure. Anyway, this will not be an easy game for K-State, and I’m glad it’s at home. I am predicting a close victory for the Wildcats.

Prediction: Win, 2-0

at Missouri (Sept. 16)

I thought last year’s game in Manhattan would be closer than it was, which I was wrong about, as K-State got the 40-12 blowout victory at home against the Tigers. Even though this year’s game is on the road in Columbia, I like K-State’s chances to get the win. I watched a lot of Missouri last season, and from what I saw, they are very inconsistent. Head coach Eli Drinkwitz is on the hot seat, and I think it will likely be another up-and-down season for them. I am much more confident about the Wildcats’ chances in this game than I was at this time last year.

Prediction: Win, 3-0

 

UCF (Sept. 23)

K-State opens conference play at home against league newcomer, UCF. UCF comes to town coached by ex-Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and is coming off a successful 2022 season that saw them finish tied for second place in the American Athletic Conference with a 6-2 conference record, 9-5 overall. UCF was picked to finish 8th in the Big 12 by media members, which sounds about right to me. I would be a bit scared about this game if it were on the road, but I will pick K-State to get the victory at home.

Prediction: Win, 4-0

at Oklahoma State (Friday, Oct. 6)

A Friday night game on the road in Stillwater against the Cowboys? I don’t like this game one bit. K-State has not won in Stillwater since 2017. The Cowboy faithful will be jacked up for this nationally televised night game, and traveling for this game a day earlier than a typical Saturday game gets the road team, K-State, out of their usual routine. Oklahoma State has the advantage in this game.

Prediction: Loss, 4-1

at Texas Tech (Oct. 14)

Expectations are high at Texas Tech, as fifth-year senior Tyler Shough returns to quarterback a team returning 14 starters from the team that finished 8-5 last season. The Red Raiders had the second-best offense in the Big 12 last season and will likely have a high-powered offense again. It will be a difficult game for K-State, and with the questions I still have about the Wildcat defense, I give the slight edge to Texas Tech.

Prediction: Loss, 4-2

 

TCU (Oct. 21)

It is a rematch of the Big 12 championship game, but the two teams will look drastically different than they did in December of last year. TCU lost a lot of key players, including starting quarterback Max Duggan, running back Kendre Miller, and receivers Quentin Johnston, Derius Davis, and Taye Barber. K-State’s offensive line, quarterback Will Howard, and a few key pieces on defense should be enough to give them the edge over TCU in this game.

Prediction: Win, 5-2

Houston (Oct. 28)

The University of Houston is one of the four newcomers to the Big 12 this season. They are coached by Dana Holgorsen, who was the head coach at current Big 12 member West Virginia from 2011-2018. Houston played in the American Athletic Conference last season, and they finished in the middle of the pack with a 5-3 conference record, 8-5 overall. They also lost to Texas Tech and Kansas in the non-conference portion of their schedule last year. The media picked the Cougars to finish 12th in the Big 12, and I cannot really argue with that. K-State should be able to win this one at home.

Prediction: Win, 6-2

at Texas (Nov. 4)

Texas is the preseason favorite to win the Big 12, and this might be the year they get it done. Over time, I have laughed at how Texas was overrated almost every season, often highly ranked in preseason polls when there was little justification for it. They have rarely lived up to their preseason expectations over the years. This year might be different because they have more talent than usual, as they have recently been recruiting at about the same level as Alabama and Georgia. They also return 15 starters, along with starting quarterback Quinn Ewers, from last year’s team that finished 8-5. I don’t like that this game is on the road, and I also don’t like that Chris Klieman has yet to beat Texas as head coach of the Wildcats. Like I said last year, I am not going to predict a victory over Texas until it happens.

Prediction: Loss, 6-3

Baylor (Nov. 11)

Baylor was the Big 12 preseason favorite last year but finished in the middle of the pack in the league, with a 6-7 overall record. Quarterback Blake Shapen returns, but there are a lot of questions about the Bears on both sides of the ball. Would it surprise me if they contend in 2023? No, since they won the league two years ago, they could surely put themselves in a position to do it again. It also would not surprise me if they finish in the middle of the pack again this season. There are more questions about Baylor going into this season than K-State, so I am going with the Wildcats in this game.

Prediction: Win, 7-3

at Kansas (Nov. 18)

Kansas quarterback Jaylon Daniels was chosen by the media as the Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year, so there is some hype surrounding the Jayhawks going into the 2023 season. There is no doubt that Kansas is improved, but they still have not had a winning record in football since 2008, also the last time they beat K-State. The streak continues this year.

Prediction: Win, 8-3

Iowa State (Nov. 25)

Iowa State stumbled to a disappointing 4-8 record in 2022, and I do not see much changing for them in 2023. I think K-State gets the win here.

Prediction: Win, 9-3

Conclusion

There you have it. Will a 6-3 conference record be enough to get the Wildcats into the Big 12 championship game? Last year it took a 7-2 league record to get in. Texas was 6-3 and was left out with TCU going 9-0 in conference play. I guess it will depend on what other teams do.

Best Case Scenario: Would it shock me if K-State beats Oklahoma State and Texas Tech on the road?

No. I think Texas is the only “for sure” loss on the schedule at this point. So 11-1 is on the table.

Worst Case Scenario: If the Wildcats cannot replace Deuce Vaughn, Malik Knowles, Kade Warner, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Eli Huggins, Julius Brents, and Josh Hayes, among others, they will struggle.

The non-con schedule is not easy. Some of the conference games could be toss-ups. A 6-6 record would be my worst-case scenario. The Wildcats would still be bowl eligible but finish among the middle of the pack in the league.

Most Likely Scenario: 9-3 is still the most likely, with another appearance in the Big 12 championship game a very good possibility.

What do you think? Am I on track or off base?

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