2014 Kansas State Wildcats Odds to Win the Big 12 with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 8/15/2014
There might not be a more difficult team to write a preview about on an annual basis than the Kansas State Wildcats with Bill Snyder at the helm. There are two reasons for that one. First of all, no one does a better job bringing in junior college transfers who can help the team right away. Secondly, there isn't a coach in the country better at getting the most out of what appears to be ordinary talent than Snyder.
Snyder's teams are well-known for how hard they compete. This is a team that doesn't back down against anyone. Kansas State has pulled off 13 upsets in the five years since Snyder has returned to the sidelines. The Wildcats started just 4-4 last year, but they finished strong, winning four of their last five contests.
Kansas State lost 26 lettermen from last year's team. They return six starters on offense and five on defense. That's actually more than last year, when they returned just two starters on the defensive side of the ball. What kind of magic can Snyder work this season?
2014 Kansas State Offense
Kansas State entered the Spring with a lot of depth at quarterback, but when Daniel Sams unexpectedly left the program it left the team with depth issues here. Jake Waters is a solid starter, but the Wildcats definitely need him to stay healthy. Second on the depth chart now is Jesse Ertz, who has no experience at all. Waters completed 61 percent of his passes and threw for 18 touchdowns last year. Sams was the much better running quarterback, and without him the Wildcats have less offensive balance.
John Hubert was the entire running game in 2013, and he is gone. Without him, the Wildcats will turn to DeMarcus Robinson and youngster Dalvin Warmack. Warmack has the higher upside, and I think he'll eventually be the starter this year. There is some talent here, but there's no denying that the loss of Hubert hurts the running game badly. The offensive line is led by star center B.J. Finney. A couple of the key junior college recruits will start on the offensive front, too. This group should be solid again in 2014.
The biggest area of strength for the Wildcats offense is likely the wide receiver spot. Tyler Lockett is a star, and he's now entering his senior season. He racked up 81 catches and 11 touchdown receptions last year. Curry Sexton was second on the team in pass receptions last year, and he's back for his senior season as well. Junior college transfer Andre Davis is likely to make a big impact right away.
Sams transferring out hurt this offense, and they'll need to rely a little more on the passing game than they have in the past.
2014 Kansas State Defense
The Kansas State Wildcats returned only two defensive starters heading into the 2013 season. They still managed to allow 16 yards per game less than they did in 2012. That goes to show how good these junior college transfers are that Snyder pulls in.
Kansas State's defense is unique in that there is no one unit that is a major area of strength, but there's also not one specific area that can be pointed out as a glaring weakness for the team. Junior college transfer Terrell Clinkscales is expected to be a force right away at the defensive tackle spot. He's 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, and the Wildcats are counting on him to be their primary run stuffer. Ryan Mueller was a breakout star at the end spot last year, and he should be getting into backfields consistently in 2014.
Jonathan Truman was the second-leading tackler for the team last season, and he's the leader of the linebacker unit. There's plenty of depth at linebacker, but the other starting spots are still up in the air right now, so this is a bit of a weakness. The secondary loses a star in Ty Zimmerman. Strong safety Dante Barrett is a ball hawk who is also a sure tackler. Cornerback Randall Evans is a senior leader on one side of the ball. The other two spots are up for grabs, but I expect some junior college transfers to fill in here.
2014 Kansas State Wildcats Odds to Win Big 12
Kansas State is listed at 10/1 to win the Big 12 Conference, according to odds from Bovada. The Wildcats are given long odds of 100/1 to win the FBS Championship this year. What about their season win total? Most books are showing the Wildcats win total number at eight games .
2014 Kansas State Wildcats Picks & Predictions
This team doesn't look all that impressive on paper, but I'm definitely scared to be too low on a team coached by a legend like Snyder. Waters will need to be good, and he'll need to stay healthy. Because there is a bit of a lack of skill position stars, the Wildcats need to win the battle in the trenches. Kansas State's great special teams play will win them a game or two this year. Still, with Baylor and Oklahoma both on the road, the schedule doesn't set up well for Kansas State. Seven or eight wins seem likely here.
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