Coach: Bill Snyder (187-94-1, entering 24 season; 187-94-1 overall)
2014 record: 9-4, 7-2 in Big 12; third in Big 12
We’re counting down every team at the Football Bowl Subdivision level from No. 128 to No. 1. Follow along as we reach the top just in time for the season to begin.
Look back: Lost in the national debate about whether TCU or Baylor should have made it into the College Football Playoff was the fact Kansas State finished third in the Big 12 last season. The Wildcats won at least nine games for the third time in four seasons while earning their fifth straight bowl appearance.
Offensive starters returning: 6
Offensive starters lost: 5
Defensive starters returning: 6
Defensive starters lost: 5
Key losses: QB Jake Waters, RB DeMarcus Robinson, WR Tyler Lockett, WR Curry Sexton, OL B.J. Finney, DT Valentino Coleman, DE Ryan Mueller, LB Dakorey Johnson, LB Jonathan Truman, DB Dylan Schellenberg
Top returnees: OL Luke Hayes, OL Matt Kleinsorge, OL Cody Whitehair, OL Boston Stiverson, WR Kody Cook, WR Deante Burton, DT Travis Britz, DE Jordan Willis, S Dante Barnett, CB Danzel McDaniel, CB Morgan Burns
Strengths: Kansas State continued a trend by featuring one of the top defenses in the Big 12 last season, allowing just over 23 points and 363 yards per game. Since 2009, the Wildcats have never allowed more than 30 points per game. To continue the streak, Bill Snyder’s team must rely on a defensive line featuring four players who combined have 43 career starts under their belts. Led by tackle Travis Britz, the group combined for 12.5 of the team’s 26 sacks in 2014.
The Wildcats tied for second in the league with 15 interceptions. The unit returns three of its four starters led by seniors safety Dante Barnett (77 tackles, 3 INTs) and corner Morgan Burns (55 tackles, 3 INTs).
With four starters who combined for 51 starts last season, the offensive line led by Cody Whitehair (38 career starts) is solid heading into preseason camp.
Weaknesses: Three years removed from Collin Klein having one of the best seasons in school history, Kansas State opens the 2015 season with an unproven starting quarterback. Joe Hubener saw limited action as the backup to Jake Waters — attempting just 17 passes for 235 yards. Hubener is the favorite to start after competing with sophomore Jesse Ertz and freshman Alex Delton during the spring.
The Wildcats only return 18 percent of their production from the receivers group after the departures of Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton. The pair combined for 2,574 yards on 185 catches and 16 touchdowns, with Lockett providing an additional 764 yards on kickoff and punt returns while earning Big 12 honors.
Kansas State finished near the bottom of the Big 12 in rushing offense after the Wildcats produced just 134 yards per game on the ground. It was the lowest output per game since 2008 (133 yards per game) and a cause for concern.
Outlook: Kansas State lost a tremendous amount of talent and experience this offseason, but never count out a Bill Snyder-led team.
Sept. 5 South Dakota
Sept. 12 at UTSA
Sept. 19 Louisiana Tech
Oct. 3 at Oklahoma State
Oct. 10 TCU
Oct. 17 Oklahoma
Oct. 24 at Texas
Nov. 5 Baylor
Nov. 14 at Texas Tech
Nov. 21 Iowa State
Nov. 28 at Kansas
Dec. 5 West Virginia
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com