Last season was Bill Snyder’s ninth year at Kansas State during his second coaching stint there. The Wildcats were coming off a rout of TCU in 2016 and a big bowl win over Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl. After that nine win season, there was some serious thought given to the idea that the Wildcats could compete for another conference title in 2017.
An early season loss to Vanderbilt and an injury to quarterback Jesse Ertz seemed to derail some of those hopes, however. The Wildcats were 3-4 heading into late November and it looked as though they might not make a bowl for the first time in years.
Instead, they found ways to win all but one of their next six games, including a physical beating of Pac-12 foe UCLA.
Expectations are relatively modest in 2018 for the Wildcats, especially with constant rumors about when Bill Snyder will finally retire. Could this turn into a magical season that would allow Snyder to finally walk away? Projecting how many wins are possible for Kansas State’s can at least give us some insight there, and that’s exactly what we go through below.
Here wins and losses are broken down into “Highly Likely” Wins/Losses – games in which the projected winner should be favored by more than two possessions – and “Likely” Wins/Losses – games in which the projected winner will probably be favored by about two possessions. A “Toss Up” is any game that has a good chance of being decided by one possession.
2018 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
SEP 1 – South Dakota
SEP 8 – Mississippi State
SEP 15 – UTSA
SEP 22 – at West Virginia
SEP 29 – Texas
OCT 6 – at Baylor
OCT 13 – Oklahoma State
OCT 27 – at Oklahoma
NOV 3 – at TCU
NOV 10 – Kansas
NOV 17 – Texas Tech
NOV 24 – at Iowa State
HIGHLY LIKELY WINS: SOUTH DAKOTA, KANSAS
The Jayhawks are an in-state rival for Kansas State, but their poor record in recent conference matchups means that, per usual, they will probably be a multi-touchdown underdog, especially since the Wildcats get this one at home. South Dakota is an FCS team that lost to New Mexico last season by over 20 points, so expect this does not look like a very losable game for the Wildcats.
Bill Snyder’s teams usually excel at not beating themselves, so it’s hard to see any chance of an upset from these two home games.
Likely Wins: UTSA, Texas Tech, Baylor
Even though UTSA upset Baylor in 2017, this could be a rebuilding year for the Roadrunners. That should make the game a somewhat comfortable win for the Wildcats.
Kansas State’s matchup against Texas Tech could arguably be considered a Toss Up, but Kliff Kingsbury has yet to be less than a double digit underdog at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. If he can show that some of his offensive issues are fixed by late November, this one might be closer than projected here.
The road game against the Bears is the only road contest listed as a win here, but that is based mostly on how Baylor fared in 2017. Even if Baylor is improved this next season, it’s hard to envision the line on this game being around a possession. Kansas State will likely get the benefit of the doubt, even on the road.
Toss Ups: West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Iowa State
Like most other Big 12 teams, most of Kansas State’s matchups are games that will probably come down to the wire. What’s problematic for the Wildcats, though, is that they have three of their Toss Ups on the road.
Their very first conference test against the Mountaineers will signal whether Kansas State is ready to compete for the Big 12 championship this year. Given that West Virginia will probably start the season out as a Top 15 team in most polls, the Mountaineers will likely be favored in Morgantown.
When Kansas State takes on TCU in Forth Worth, they will probably also be underdogs in that matchup. Games like that one and their tilt against the Cyclones in Ames make it more difficult to see the Wildcats making it through their road slate undefeated.
The Wildcats do get both Oklahoma State and Texas at home, though, so they might have an edge in those matchups. The Longhorns don’t have great record in Manhattan, and the Pokes have rarely been the favorite on the road against Bill Snyder.
Likely Losses: Mississippi State, Oklahoma
The Wildcats will take on Mississippi State at home, but the Bulldogs are a team expected to possibly make some waves in the SEC and will more than likely be ranked in the Top 25 when Kansas State faces them. Getting the upset here would really catapult the Wildcats into the national conversation, but they’ll almost certainly be underdogs headed into this game.
Traveling to Norman will also make Kansas State likely to lose that game by more than a touchdown. Having a bye week before that contest might help the Wildcats pull off the upset, though.
Highly Likely Losses: None
Since taking over as the Kansas State head coach for the second time, Bill Snyder has rarely coached in games that resulted in the Wildcats getting blown out, despite the fact that he hasn’t had the same caliber of success this go around. Don’t look for Kansas State to be massive underdogs in any games they play in 2018.
Predicted Wins: 7-8
It’s not difficult to see the Wildcats possibly getting to nine wins in the regular season, but they’re going to have to pull off some upsets to get there. With five conference games on the road, moreover, the odds of Kansas State making it to the Big 12 championship in December aren’t exactly favorable.
Still, even their Likely Losses don’t seem to be out of reach for the Wildcats if they can get things going offensively this season. They most likely won’t go through their schedule unscathed, but getting to Arlington is a definite possibility. Road games against Oklahoma, TCU, West Virginia, and Iowa State look to be the biggest obstacles Bill Snyder’s team will face next season.
Should Kansas State win the majority of their Toss Ups and all of the games that they’re likely to take, that still leaves them at eight wins. That wouldn’t be a bad regular total for a team that was fighting for bowl eligibility for most of 2017. If this squad has it in them to do better than that, such an accomplishment would be owing to something we can’t see right now.