By now the story regarding Kansas State football is likely familiar for everyone whether it be fans of the school, locals whose loyalties lie elsewhere and complete outsiders. The Wildcats had an unexpected double digit win regular season last year and return a plethora of starting players including a dark horse Heisman candidate at quarterback. The catch is they are once again are being looked at with some definite hesitation by those who predict wins and losses and many think they can’t duplicate last season’s success.
So if just about the entire college football world is convinced that K-State will not equal or better their win total from last season what amount of victories are needed to make this year’s edition be considered a success by all parties?
To determine the total amount of wins let’s break down the Wildcats schedule into three different categories: Likely Wins, Likely Losses & Toss-Up’s.
A glance at the schedule reveals as many as five contests where most people would say the Wildcats should win without too many issues. The most obvious games where everyone would be shocked at a loss are against Missouri State, North Texas and Kansas. Two other games which are likely to be more difficult than the previous three but still figure to be victories are against Texas Tech and Miami as each school is dealing with some different issues which figure to inhibit their success this season. Assuming the Wildcats do not come out and just fumble the ball away and play without any effort they should be able to get at least five wins in these games all of which are at home.
The bad news for K-State is they have almost as many games, four, that are probably considered losses on their schedule right now as they do probable wins. The four schools that the Wildcats will likely be underdogs against are Oklahoma, West Virginia, Baylor and TCU. Naturally every single one of these games will be on the road in tough environments to go in and get a win. The overall key to the Wildcats success last year was their ability to go on the road in the Big 12 and come out with wins but there was some luck involved in that. Two of the road games that the Wildcats won in 2011 were against losing teams in Texas Tech and Kansas while every road game this year figures to be against teams either in the Top 25 or darn close to it. If the Wildcats want to prove their mettle as a top team in the Big 12 they will need to find a way to win at the very minimum one of these games while taking care of business elsewhere.
Since there are nine games listed in the two categories up above simple math will tell you that only three games are left as likely toss-ups which could swing the K-State season in different directions. Luckily for K-State, two of those games are at home against Texas and defending conference champion Oklahoma State along with a road game at Iowa State. Some might say the road game in Ames, IA should fall in the likely win category but the Cyclones always play the Wildcats tough and you can simply ask Mike Gundy how tough it is to win in Jack Trice Stadium. The two games against the Cowboys and Longhorns could very well be the biggest determining factors in how well the season is looked upon by fans and media alike. From the outside looking in it would seem that you would like the Wildcats chances in these two games as the Cowboys are breaking in a freshman quarterback while the Longhorns do not appear to be anywhere near set at the quarterback position. In addition the Wildcats seem to have some kind of mojo over the Longhorns which can’t exactly be explained and being how it is the last game of the season the Texas football team has shown in previous years they can quit on the season. The Wildcats need to find a way to win at least two of the three games and for a possible special season they need to win all three.
It would seem that the Wildcats need to find a way to come out with a minimum seven wins and likely eight for the year to be looked upon fondly. There just are not too many years where a team like Kansas State returns so many players at key positions and simply put the Wildcats need to take advantage of it.