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As usual, the Wildcats will play with a chip on their shoulder and beat a very good team when you least expect it. For example, they have dealt Oklahoma two of their five losses the last two seasons. They are in year three under Coach Chris Klieman and most people have great respect for what he has achieved so far in Manhattan. They should be solid on offense with several returning starters. The key to the season will be how well can they replace 8 starters off of the defense in 2020.
Offense: A big boost was felt throughout the K-State football program when QB Skylar Thompson decided to return for a 6th year. He has been productive when he has been healthy but staying in one piece has been a problem. Will Howard started in his place in 2020 and was OK but Thompson is better. They also have highly recruited Jake Rubley nipping at their heels. There is no doubt that running back Deuce Vaughn is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball which will be plenty in 2021. He was named the Big-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and accounted for 1,077 total yards. They have to find a couple of receivers and hope that Phillip Brooks and Malik Knowles develop. The offensive line got a boost when center Noah Johnson decided to return. But there are three starters that need to be replaced.
Defense: The Cats lost four of their front six starters from the 2020 defense. They need continued growth from Khalid Duke, Bronson Massie, and Eli Huggins who have combined for 13.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and 11 quarterback hits. LBs Cody Fletcher and Daniel Green were not starters but they played a lot and have experience. The secondary will be the strength of the defense. Strong safety Jahron McPherson was the leading tackler from a year ago will be joined by another returnee in Ross Elder.
9/4 Stanford at Arlington,TX.
9/11 Southern Illinois
We will get a good line on the Wildcats when they go to Arlington and open the season against a good Stanford team. If they win that one then they are pretty good. Southern Illinois is a must win and the game against a good Nevada team will be a test.
9/25 at Oklahoma State
10/16 Iowa State
10/23 at Texas Tech
11/6 at Kansas
11/13 West Virginia
11/27 at Texas
The conference schedule is front loaded with the first three games against most of the Big-12 favorites. They open at Oklahoma State and then have home games against Oklahoma (can they beat them again?) and Iowa State. If they win two of those three games, they suddenly are in the middle of the hunt for the conference crown. The rest of the home schedule includes Baylor and West Virginia, games they need to win, and another toughie in TCU. They go to Kansas and that is a must win and they have a winnable game at Texas Tech. They end the season at Texas.
Summary: K-State will be a good team that is hard to beat but they aren’t great. Offensively, they have some weapons and will be a nightmare for defenses at times. There are a lot of holes on defense and it’s not a given that they will be filled. The schedule has most of the toughest teams in the conference in Manhattan but can the Wildcats win those games? The tough opening schedule of games could find K-State at 2-4 or 1-5 with a conference record of 0-3. Are they tough enough to stay together when the easier games come along late in the season?
Overall Record: 6-6
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