Jan 06, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; The Kansas State Wildcats huddle before the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 2012 Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium. Arkansas won 29-16. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

Big 12 Syllabus Series: Kansas State Wildcats

In case you missed my post about Kansas State back in June, here it is.

Instead of recycling much of what I wrote in that preview, I’ll just provide the link.

3 & out

1st Down: Can Kansas State win the Big 12 title in 2012?

Anything is possible, especially if the Wildcats can duplicate the mistake free football they played last season. In this writer’s humble opinion, the answer is no. However, they can certainly make a run and finish in the top five. Despite some who are saying the Big 12 will have a down year, the conference actually got tougher with the additions of West Virginia and TCU. KSU has road games against Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia, TCU and Baylor. That’s a pretty tough road to a conference title. Even when they travel to Ames, that’s no small task, especially if the Cyclones are fighting for a bowl berth.

The Wildcats have a very strong chance to begin the season 4-1, as four of their first five games are at home. Traveling to Norman in week four can very well propel this team to another run in 2012. Sitting at 5-0 going into October can give this team the confidence they need to snag a couple wins in Ames and Morgantown. The challenge doesn’t end there. Seth Doege and the Red Raiders will invade Manhattan for Home Coming and challenge the secondary. The final game against Texas should be interesting depending on what the Longhorns quarterback situation is. For KSU to even have a chance at another Cotton Bowl berth or a Big 12 title, the pass rush has to show up every conference game. Otherwise, the talent level in the secondary won’t matter.

 2nd Down: How important is Collin Klein?

The only player that can claim the same type of value to his team as Collin Klein last season was Robert Griffin III. There’s no doubt to just how important Klein was to the Wildcats. Without him, this team wouldn’t have been anywhere near the Cotton Bowl. He put together one of the best seasons in school history throwing nearly 2,000 passing yards,  1,141 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns. As brilliant as he was in 2011, the one knock on him was in his passing game. But fear not Kansas State fans, Klein is trying to take his game to the next level focusing on the pass more. During the spring game, Klein threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns. If Klein improves his passing game, which it seems he has, he can be even more dangerous and truly be a dual-threat. He led the Big 12 in player scoring in 2011.  If he can lead the conference in player scoring without a strong passing game, just think of what he can accomplish as a passer who can run.

3rd Down: Can the mistake free football continue?

From my previous post: You can call it overachieving, but when you look at the Wildcats’ system under head coach Bill Snyder, you can pinpoint what made them so successful in 2011. Despite being outgained by its opponents within conference play by 106.8 yards per game, the Wildcats were able to control games with time of possession. The slow, steady tempo on the offensive side of the ball kept the high powered Big 12 offenses off the field. They also made very little mistakes on offense, only turning the ball over 15 times. Compare that to the defense, which came up with 27 takeaways, while only being on the field about 26 minutes a game.

It’s hard to imagine the mistake free football will continue this season, but it’s real simple. The defense needs to get to opposing quarterbacks. Collin Klein can carry the offense once again alongside RB John Hubert, who is more than capable of taking the work load off Klein. Klein can grow this season with six of the top pass catchers from last season returning.

Kansas State can very well win eight or nine games this season, but a Big 12 title will be much harder to come by.

Tags: Baylor Bears Bill Snyder Collin Klein Cotton Bowl Iowa State John Hubert Kansas State Oklahoma Sooners Robert Griffin III Seth Doege TCU Horned Frogs Texas Longhorns Texas Tech West Virginia Mountaineers

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