DY: IOWA STATE
Kansas State has to be ahead of Iowa State if they want to be a successful program. It’s hard to see both flourishing at the same time, which is what was commonly said about the Wildcats and Kansas, and has held true.
Maybe both can be solid. But K-State wants to reach the heights that the Cyclones did last year. Matt Campbell and company appeared in the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington and followed it up with a Fiesta Bowl victory over Oregon.
They’ve parlayed it into some recruiting success, too, and have topped the Wildcats in the head-to-head battles on the trail ever since.
However, Chris Klieman and company defeated Iowa State in their first year, 27-17, in what was one of the coldest games that I’ve ever attended. But that is to just underscore that the schools aren’t as far apart as last year’s 45-0 score would indicate.
Kansas State and the Cyclones intersect on the recruiting trail so much that every single contest between them will be significant, and none more than this year to keep the Cyclones from even duplicating last year’s success, much less outdoing it.
DREW: OKLAHOMA STATE
The most important conference game for K-State this season is against Oklahoma State. Just like with Stanford, I believe that this is a game that sets the tone for the rest of the conference slate since it is the first one.
It is also against a peer program who was picked fourth in the preseason poll by the media.
The Cowboys return Spencer Sanders at quarterback and L.D. Brown is back after rushing for 110 yards against the Wildcats last season.
After losing in frustrating fashion a year ago, it is a chance to redeem themselves and win the first league game of the year against a team projected to finish in the top half of the conference.
Where games are at on the schedule matters. If Kansas State loses to Oklahoma State, the upcoming contests against Oklahoma and Iowa State mean less than if the Wildcats were to win in Stillwater.
Speaking of winning in Stillwater, that is another reason that I think it is the most important bout for K-State. They are 2-6 at Oklahoma State since 1999, with five of those losses coming by seven points or less.
It is a chance to get the monkey off of their backs. Their last win in Stillwater was in 2017 when Skylar Thompson and company knocked off a Cowboy team ranked in the top ten.
Chris Klieman (Associated Press)
FLANDO: WEST VIRGINIA
The last time Kansas State defeated West Virginia was in 2015. And that was with former Wildcat wide receiver Kody Cook, at quarterback in a narrow 24-23 win in Manhattan.
That game also featured current Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deante Burton and his five receptions for 135 yards, which included a 77-yard touchdown grab that completed his best offensive performance of his career.
Since that day, the Mountaineers have convincingly dethroned the Wildcats.
Bill Snyder finished his career by losing three years in a row to the Big 12 school from the east. Chris Klieman hasn’t been able to stunt that streak and has lost two years in a row, which also away what could have been a nine-win season in 2019.
Last year, K-State was manhandled in Morgantown in a season worth forgetting (outside of the win over Oklahoma).
It is a year where Klieman, and Neal Brown, are both trying to use to push their programs forward and find even better footing in the Big 12. It’s a significant game for both. They play in November.
If both teams have taken care of business up to this point, it quickly turns into the biggest game in the Big 12 at that point of the season.