DALLAS – Two years ago, Kansas State was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12. The Wildcats finished second. Last season, they were picked to finish sixth and ended up winning the conference.
This year, Kansas State checked in at No. 6 in the Big 12 preseason poll. The Wildcats are looking to prove their doubters wrong again this season.
“To win a conference championship and people still pick you down in the rankings, that puts a little fire in your system,” Kansas State linebacker Tre Walker said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re ranked or how you recruit, it matters what you do on Saturday.”
Collin Klein became the program’s second-ever Heisman Trophy finalist last year while helping Kansas State win their first 10 games of the season. He accounted for nearly 70 percent of the Wildcats’ total offense over the last two years but must be replaced, either by junior college transfer Jake Waters or sophomore Daniel Sams.
“If I were given the opportunity, I would have picked us 99th,” head coach Bill Snyder said. “I know it has to be done, but it’s an awfully difficult task to make those kinds of decisions. I certainly couldn’t do it.”
Snyder has turned overachieving into an art form during his tenure at Kansas State. He consistently brings in overlooked high school prospects and utilizes junior college transfers arguably better than anyone in the business. The Wildcats have won 21 games over the past two seasons.
“The people that predict it aren’t in our locker room, they’re not behind our doors, they’re not at our practices,” center B.J. Finney, one of five returning starters on the Wildcats’ offensive line, said. “We don’t pull in the four- or five-star recruits like Texas and Oklahoma do. We have guys that don’t have the opportunity, the two- and three-star guys that fit Coach Snyder’s mold. We work hard to improve our game every day. It’s just one thing that’s demanded of us in Coach Snyder’s program and that’s why he’s successful as a coach.”