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Preview: Kansas State Looks To Avoid A Stumble Out Of The Gate Against Nicholls

Previewing and predicting Nicholls at Kansas State as the Wildcats kick off the Chris Klieman Era.

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Kansas State Wildcats wide receiver Dalton Schoen and wide receiver Zach Reuter celebrate a touchdown - Getty Images - Icon Sportswire
Getty Images - Icon Sportswire

The Wildcats are one of four Big 12 schools looking to get the tenure of a new coach started off right. Standing in their way is a 2018 FCS playoff team in Nicholls, which is looking to knock of a Kansas P5 school for the second year in a row.

The last time Kansas State was coached by someone other than Bill Snyder, the results weren’t pretty.  They are hoping that new coach Chris Klieman can bring his winning ways from FCS power North Dakota State. His first opponent should make him feel right at home.

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Game Details

  • When: Saturday, August 31st at 6:00 PM CT
  • Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS
  • Forecast: Partly Cloudy, High of 79
  • TV/Stream: ESPN+
  • Betting Line: KSU -22.5, O/U 47.5

Nicholls Colonels

This program is on a bit of a run by going to the FCS playoffs the last two seasons. They beat the Kansas Jayhawks last season, and put a scare into Georgia and Texas A&M recently. Last year, they scored 32.3 points per game en route to a 2nd-round loss to national runner up Eastern Washington.

In years past, this has been a very balanced team offensively. Quarterback Chase Fourcade leads a dynamic passing game to go along with a physical running game. However, the offensive line that made all that possible was decimated by graduating seniors. The Colonels will need to find replacements quickly if they want to get anything going against the Wildcats.

The defense has been an even bigger strength for this team, and they will look to build on last year with a majority of the starters returning. They have been very strong against the run, and were particularly effective on third down last year.

Ultimately, this is a team that has high expectations for this season, and I don’t expect them to be intimidated in this game.

Kansas State Wildcats

The Wildcats are looking to take a huge step forward from last season. They finished last season 5-7 and tied for the second worst record in the conference. However, they ranked last in scoring offense and total offense, and they lost their top four running backs. New offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham, who worked with Klieman at NDSU, is expected to utilize a run-heavy offense. So, finding replacements will be a top priority.

The defense is expected to be very aggressive, with lots of returning talent in the front seven. But the secondary lost a lot of key guys from last season, so finding players who can stop the deep throw is a top priority.

In all, today will be about setting the tone for the team moving forward. They will look to plug major holes at running back and in the secondary, and a win here is crucial if they want to make a push for bowl eligibility.

3 Keys To The Game For The Wildcats

Find a Main Running Threat – This team figures to be very run heavy. Quickly identifying who will handle the bulk of those responsibilities will be key to not only this game, but the season as a whole.

Defensive Pressure – With potential issues in the secondary, it will be important to use their strengths on the defensive line to ratchet up the pressure on Nicholls. If the visitors can establish a rhythm and buy some time, it could be a long day for the Wildcats.

No Turnovers – Possessions will be at a premium. Nicholls is returning a good offense and will likely score on a majority of their possessions. Kansas State needs to maximize each of their opportunities without giving the Colonels any extra ones.

Game Prediction

Most of the Wildcat fans I’ve spoken with are very happy with the hire of Klieman and are excited to see his first game.  Kansas State is expected to have more physical and more talented players, and that gives them a natural advantage here.

I do think this game is a bit closer than most are assuming. KSU is still implementing a brand new system and replacing a lot of lost talent. Nicholls is returning most of their talent and has a well-established system.

I expect a back and forth game, with Kansas State jumping out to a quick lead, then fending off a late comeback attempt to start the season off with a big win.

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