Head Coach: Bill Snyder (187-93-1), head coach at Kansas State from 1989 to 2005 and then again from 2009 to present.
Awesome nickname: The Purple Wizard
Snyder was first hired as the head coach at Kansas State on November 24th, 1988, when Jim Mora was fresh off his 27th birthday and I was fresh off my third. He took over a moribund program that hadn’t won a game in two years, and immediately got them back on the right track, winning one game in his first year, five in his second, and seven in his third before rattling off a series of 11-win seasons in the late 90’s. He runs what would best be described as a multiple-set offense that ends up spreading teams out quite a bit, but uses a good amount of I-formation, double tight ends, and various other pro-style looks. Defensively, Snyder runs mostly the best-named defense in the world, the Double Eagle, which uses a five-man front, but they'll use other formations as well, including a good amount of 4-3. His teams are generally very disciplined, and give off all the impressions of being well-coached.
Mascot: You’d think the school from the other, other Manhattan would try to liven things up by not having the same mascot as a couple dozen other college teams, but no, they’re definitely the Wildcats.
Best Offensive Player: WR Tyler Lockett. Lockett is an explosive playmaker, starring at kick returner, punt returner, and receiver. He’s the most significant threat in the passing game, with very good speed, quickness, and hands. He’s scored a total of 11 times this year, nine times at receiver and twice on punt returns. Stopping him will prove to be a tall order.
Best Defensive Player: DE Ryan Mueller. Though his stats have been underwhelming, the senior defensive end was a second-team All-American last year and was First Team All-Big 12. He has just 5.5 sacks this year after getting 11.5 last year, which is largely a product of offenses keying to stop him more this season. He’s not a super athlete, but he has a very good motor, and can pose a challenge to larger, slower offensive tackles.
Breakdown of season/team: The Wildcats lost to every team they played that is currently in the top 25 (No. 19 Auburn, No. 6 TCU, and No. 5 Baylor) and beat every other team they played. Kansas State averages 6.2 yards per play on offense (26th in the country) and gives up 5.2 yards per play (47th in the country). Aside from playing Auburn, they weren’t challenged greatly in the non-conference schedule, beating up on Stephen F. Austin and UTEP. Beating up patsies in the non-conference is a long-time Snyder tradition, which is probably why he scheduled Rick Neuheisel’s UCLA teams from a few years back (too soon? Yeah, too soon). Snyder has done a great job of turning around Kansas State for the second time (this time taking over for Ron Prince, who went 17-20 in three years), going 51-25 over his second tenure and finishing ranked three times in five years. By the merits, and given what a tough job it must be to convince recruits that Manhattan, Kansas is not the fictional hometown of a superhero, he has to be considered one of the top 15 or so coaches in the country.
Best win: Either at Oklahoma (31-30) or against Texas at home (23-0)
Worst loss: At No. 6 TCU (41-20).
Fun Fact: In 1989, Sports Illustrated published an article calling Kansas State “Futility U”, since, to that point, KSU was legitimately the worst program in major college football, with an overall record of 299-509-41. Since then, the program is 195-110-1, proving that SI doesn’t really curse teams, it is just the worst predictive publication in history.
Quick Primer on Kansas State
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