Kansas State's John Hubert returns to help lead the Wildcats' offense. (Scott Sewell, US-Presswire.)
Today at No. 26: Kansas State
Coach: Bill Snyder (170-85-1 entering 22nd season; 170-85-1 overall)
2012 record: 11-2 (8-1 in Big 12, tied for first)
Look back: Bill Snyder remains at the top of his game, earning coach of the year honors during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Quarterback Collin Klein was the latest player to blossom under Snyder's watch, making strong run at the Heisman Trophy. Klein completed 197 of the 304 passes he attempted for 2,641 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Kansas State was an early BCS Championship Game contender, turning heads with a 52-13 win over improving Miami during the second game of the season and a 24-19 win over then-No. 6 Oklahoma the fourth game of the season. The Wildcats won their first 10 games, including three victories over foes ranked in the top 25. However, a 52-24 loss to Baylor crushed Kansas State's title hopes and Klein's shot at the Heisman. Kansas State closed the regular season with a 42-24 win over then-No. 23 Texas before losing 35-17 to then-No. 5 Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
Offensive starters returning: 7
Offensive starters lost: 4
Defensive starters returning: 3
Defensive starters lost: 8
Key losses: QB Collin Klein, WR Chris Harper, TE Travis Tannahill, FB Braden Wilson, LB Arthur Brown, DB Allen Chapman, LB Jarell Childs, DE Adam Davis, DL Vai Luitui, DB Nigel Malone, DL John Sua, DE Meshak Williams.
Top returnees: OL BJ Finney, RB John Hubert, WR Tyler Lockett, OL Cornelius Lucas, OL Tavon Rooks, OL Keenan Taylor, OL Cody Whitehair, DB Randall Evans, LB Tre Walker, DB Ty Zimmerman
Strengths: Snyder's offenses have often centered around a bruising rushing attack and the trend should continue with RB John Hubert anchoring the offensive lineup. Hubert rushed for 947 yards and 15 touchdowns on 189 carries, tallies that are expected to increase without Klein in the lineup to direct the offense.
The Wildcats return their entire offensive line, which should help Kansas State adapt to a new starting quarterback. Many figure the job will go to Jake Waters, the national junior college player of the year.
Weaknesses: In addition to hunting for a new quarterback to run the offense, Kansas State has to plug major holes on defense following the departure eight starters. Snyder has successfully used junior college players to fill gaps in the past, but it will be difficult working with this many first-time starters.
Outlook: Snyder has proven he can quickly rebuild. With Oklahoma and Oklahoma State also replacing their starting quarterbacks, his team may be able to fight for a spot near the top of the Big 12 standings. The Wildcats face big challenges relatively early, playing at Texas Sept. 21, at Oklahoma State Oct. 5 and at home against Baylor Oct. 12.
Aug. 30 North Dakota State
Sept. 7 Louisiana