The next four games for KSU will go a long way to determining popular opinion on not only this year's team but on the team's prospects down the road.
The story has become somewhat well known over the past couple of weeks. The Kansas State Wildcats have surprised the college football world by jumping out to a 7-1 record and a #14 national ranking. These accomplishments have been done by a team predicted to finish eighth in the Big 12 in the preseason and with a quarterback who struggles to throw the ball.
This past weekend the Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season at home to the visiting Oklahoma Sooners. While the Wildcats played reasonably well in the first half, their second half meltdown made many Kansas State and non-K-State fans begin to wonder if the Wildcats might struggle down the stretch of the season when their schedule looks to take a step up in difficulty.
This next weekend, Bill Snyder leads his team down to Stillwater to take on the third ranked team in the nation in the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Even the most optimistic of Wildcat faithful expect this to be the team's second loss of the season and lead to an inevitable drop in the national rankings.
The question then must be asked that if the Wildcats continue to struggle down the stretch have they done enough to already warrant a successful season? Let's take a look at what they have accomplished thus far.
They started out their non-conference slate with two wins over lower tier schools albeit one in exciting fashion before traveling to take on the Miami Hurricanes. The road victory over the Hurricanes was the obvious highlight before conference season started.
Once Big 12 action started the Wildcats took advantage of having an extremely rare opening home game to start conference play and defeated the then ranked Baylor Bears before taking down the Missouri Tigers. The win over the Tigers represented a high point for not only the team but the fans as Mizzou had soundly beaten K-State for five straight seasons, while the fans reveled in the victory due to the Tigers upcoming departure to the SEC.
The road victory over Texas Tech continued the good feelings already being built up and it helped to erase the memory of the 66-14 thrashing the Red Raiders put on the Wildcats in Bill Snyder's first season back in his second stint as head coach. Even more important though was the following weekend's dominant performance over the rival Kansas Jayhawks.
In summary so far this season the Wildcats have a road win over an ACC opponent and victories over two rivals in Missouri and Kansas along with a win over a ranked opponent. In addition the Wildcats have already assured themselves of a bowl invitation for the second straight season so the season in theory could be looked at as a successful campaign no matter the outcome of the final four games.
Let's go ahead and look at the schedule, while no one expects K-State to lose all their remaining games, but it is not out of the question for the Wildcats to lose possibly three out of their last four games. This surely would be a disappointment for Kansas State fans at this point in the season, but should it be?
Even with possibly losing three out of four this would put the Wildcats final record at 8-4 with wins over Kansas and Missouri and a decent bowl bid. If you would have asked most any rational Kansas State fan before the season started they would have most likely jumped at that opportunity.
On the other hand is the chance the Wildcats finish strong and win three out of their four remaining games. This would place their final regular season record at 10-2 with a Big 12 record of 8-2.
This scenario would include the wins mentioned previously and likely yet another win over Texas along with presumed victories over Iowa State and another team choosing to leave the Big 12 in Texas A&M. That would represent a total tally of wins over both teams choosing to ditch the Big 12 for supposedly greener pastures along with triumphs over rival Kansas and the team most everyone loves to hate in Texas.
If Kansas State can beat the odds and accomplish a possible 10 or 11 win season that would make one try to then answer two different questions.
What can Bill Snyder accomplish if he ever gets his prototypical quarterback who can run and throw and does this represent the start of another great run by Snyder and his Wildcats?