The Kansas State Wildcats have made a living of exceeding expectations under Bill Synder. That wasn’t the case in 2015. The Wildcats suffered their first losing season since 2008 with a mark of 6-7.
Kansas State took advantage of an easy non-conference slate to start out 3-0. However, things took a turn for the worse from there. The Wildcats lost their first 6 conference games to fall to 3-6.
Needing to win their final 3 games, just to make a bowl, K-State did just that. Starting with an improbable 38-35 win over Iowa State at home. A game in which they trailed 14-35 in the 3rd quarter. They weren’t able to sustain the momentum in the bowl, losing 23-45 to Arkansas.
Synder is back for another go of it. It will be his 25th season as the head coach of the Wildcats. Expectations are low, but history tells us you can’t count this team out.
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|10/1||@ West Virginia|
|10/29||@ Iowa State|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
Kansas State will have a hard time starting out 3-0 in non-conference play again in 2016. That’s because they open up on the road at Stanford.
Even with a loss there, they should be 2-1 going into Big 12 play. The other two outside the conference are home games against FAU and Missouri State.
The Wildcats will open up Big 12 action on the road against West Virginia. It’s one of 5 conference road games on the slate this year. They also have to travel to Oklahoma, ISU, Baylor and TCU.
At least the home portion of the schedule is manageable. They will host Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas.
Last year the Wildcats averaged just 29.9 ppg. The first time they finished below 30.0 ppg since 2009. A big reason for that is starting quarterback Zach Ertz was out for the season after just two plays.
Joe Hubener ended up starting 11 games. He rushed for 613 yards and 13 touchdowns, but struggled in the passing game. Hubener completed just 47.6% of his attempts with just 9 touchdowns. The good news is that Ertz is back to take over the starting job.
Ertz will welcome back last year’s top receiving threat in senior Deante Burton. However, he might not be the top option in 2016. Sophomore juco transfer Bryon Pringle was the star of spring practice. Either way, the Wildcats appear to have to legit threats to lean on in the passing game.
As for the running game, senior Charles Jones will once again be the focal point. That’s not exactly a good thing. Jones led the team last year with just 696 yards and scored just 5 touchdowns.
Synder has a history of quickly developing offensive lines. He’s going to have to be at his best in 2016. The only starter back up front is sophomore center Dalton Risner. They go from having 82 career starts back in 2015 to just 17.
The defense also wasn’t up to par last year. K-State went from giving up 23.2 ppg and 369 ypg in 2014 to allowing 31.5 ppg and 452 ypg. Easily the worst numbers they have put up on this side of the ball since 2010.
With 7 starters back and some key transfers coming into the mix, the defense should return to form.
The defensive line loses two key players in tackle Travis Britz and end Demonte Hood, but are in great shape. They have one of the best tackles in the conference returning in junior Will Geary. They also have one of the best defensive ends in the Big 12 in senior Jordan Willis. Add in some talented young players and juco transfers and this unit should be a major strength in 2016.
There’s also a lot to be excited about with the talent coming back at linebacker. The leader of the unit is junior Elijah Lee. He led the team in tackles as a sophomore with 80. He also had 5 sacks and 3 interceptions.
The only spot up for grabs in the secondary is at free safety. Whoever wins the job will benefit from playing alongside star strong safety Dante Barnett. The frontrunner to take over at safety is sophomore Kendall Adams, who flashed as a freshman.
Regular Season Win Total
Big 12 Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably not giving Synder and the Wildcats enough respect here. Nothing went right last year and they still managed to win 6 games. With that said, I don’t think they are in a position to surprise and compete for a Big 12 title.
Could they exceed my 6-6 projections? Sure, but maybe just a game or two. I just think the schedule will prove to be too much to overcome. You could make a strong case that they go winless (0-6) on the road. Home games against Texas and Oklahoma State are also far from guarantee wins.
As you can see, I have them pushing their win total of 6. If I had to take a side, I would lean with the over. As grim as things may look, Synder always seems to find a way to exceed expectations.
Big 12 Record
Win Total Prediction