Last week kicked off the Chris Klieman era in Manhattan, as the Kansas State Wildcats got their first victory in their home opener in dominating fashion. Against FCS Nicholls State, the Wildcats looked nearly flawless though four quarters in a 49-14 win.
The level of competition should be higher this week, as Kansas State takes on Bowling Green from the Mid-American Conference. This will be an especially interesting test given that the new head coach for the Wildcats hails from FCS, and this will be the first time he takes on an FBS program as the head coach of one himself.
Once again, Kansas State is a heavy favorite at home. These two teams have met only once before, and that was a 58-0 routing for Kansas State in 1997. As few of the players in this one were even alive then, the real question going into this contest is whether the Wildcats will run away with another one, or will this game be closer than we think?
- When: SAT, SEP 7 at 11:00 AM CT
- Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium
- Forecast: Mostly Sunny, High of 87
- TV: FOX Sports Net
- Stream: FOX Sports GO
- Betting Line: KSU -24.0, O/U 58
Bowling Green State Falcons (1-0)
Similar to Kansas State, the Bowling Green State Falcons are also hitting the reset button at head coach. Former Boston College offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler comes in to instill new life into a program that was 3-9 a year ago.
With him, Loeffler brought a more physical style of football that values running the ball, something evidenced by Bowling Green’s 63 rushing attempts in their Week 1 win over FCS Morgan State. The Falcons absolutely rolled over the Bears 46-3, outgaining them 620 yards to 70.
The leading rushers in that effort were running back Davon Jones and Andrew Clair, who together toted the rock 30 times. Their quarterback, Boston College transfer Darius Wade, had a strong effort as well, completing 68.8 percent of his passes for 253 yards.
On defense, the Falcons are looking to improve under a new regime after they fielded one of the worst defenses in FBS last year. Brian VanGorder, who last had a three year stint at Notre Dame, was brought on as the new defensive coordinator, and so far his efforts seem to have paid off.
VanGorder’s defenses are known for being complex, and the Falcons came into this season with a bunch of new faces in their defense, particularly in the secondary. From the numbers from BGSU’s first win, though, the Falcon defenders might be picking things up quickly.
Kansas State Wildcats (1-0)
The Wildcats come into this one riding high off their Week 1 demolition Nicholls St. Junior quarterback Skylar Thompson looked particularly good in the victory as a dual threat player, scoring touchdowns through the air and on the ground. His 72.7 completion percentage was the second best posting of his career.
Thompson executed Kansas State’s pro-style, play action offense well in the home opener, and the distribution of touches to multiple skill players was equally impressive. The Wildcats might have one of the better offensive lines in the Big 12, but they’ll need to continue to prove that once the level of competition steps up.
Defensively, Kansas State’s secondary, which returns only two starters from last year, was solid in contributing to an effort that allowed a mere 126 yards passing. Cornerback A.J. Parker had an interception, continuing the standout season he had a year ago.
After allowing 6.5 yards per rush last week, though, there are some concerns about the Wildcats’ front seven going into Week 2.
3 Keys To The Game
Score Early – If you are Kansas State, you want to put this game away as soon as possible, especially considering that the Falcons aren’t necessarily a team built to come from behind. Once the offense has its rhythm, be ready to take some deep shots around mid-field in order to get a quick score on the board.
Avoid Big Mistakes – The best way to get upset as a heavy home favorite is to play sloppy football and let the other team stay in the game. If the Wildcats can avoid major, momentum-shifting plays – particularly turnovers – then they should be able to control this one from start to finish.
Commit To Stopping The Run – This should almost go without saying, but Bowling Green is going to go to their ground game in this one. They will likely run the ball around 60 or 65 percent of the time, so stuffing the run on early downs will be important for the Wildcats. Even if it means loading up the box, I think Kansas State would do better to make the Falcons beat them through the air.
If you look at the rosters for these two teams, Kansas State has a definite advantage in talent. Bowling Green may eventually develop into the MAC championship team they were just a few years ago, but many prognosticators expect them to struggle to get out of the conference basement this year.
Loeffler is in the process of rebuilding this team in his image, which is in many ways the polar opposite of his predecessor. As they showcased last week, the Wildcats do not have that problem. Despite facing what should be a more talented team than their last opponent, Kansas State should get a comfortable win in a contest where they should be able to control the lines of scrimmage.
The Wildcats should run away with this one, too. If they don’t, that might be a bad sign of things to come. I think that the Wildcats cover the 24-point spread, though, and get another solid win in the Klieman era before moving on to face some of the tougher teams on their schedule.