Manhattan, KS– Did anyone see it coming? Everyone knew Kansas State was a good team, but 55-14 on the road against the 13th team in the country? Come on, even the most optimistic of K-State fans wouldn’t have predicted that score. As far as making an impression goes, CBS sports projected Kansas State to play Alabama in the National Championship in Miami on January 7th. That leaves the question, is Kansas State now a legitimate national title contender?
Right now the Kansas State Wildcats are the 3rd ranked team in the nation and undefeated at 7-0. Included in those 7 wins are road victories over Oklahoma, Iowa State, and West Virginia. The bulk of K-States schedule is out the way. Of K-States remaining 5 games,3 are at home, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Texas. While TCU and Baylor are on the road. Texas Tech and Texas are easily the biggest remaining roadblocks for K-State.The fact of the matter is, Kansas State has about a 40-50% shot of making it through the rest of the season without a loss. Any loss for the rest of the season will be a true upset. If K-State has gotten through road trips at Oklahoma and West Virginia on the road is there any reason they should lose to Texas Tech at home or TCU on the road? No, The Wildcats are a better team than everyone else left on the schedule.
K-State must now make the transition to playing as the favorite. The Cats have already proven that they play very well as underdogs. They were underdogs twice this season against Oklahoma and West Virginia and in 9 of their 13 games last season. When K-State has been favorited, their performances have been anywhere from dominating, see KU for example, to mixed, see Iowa State the past two years. K-State will be favorites for their remaining 5 games, if K-State plays they way they have all season. They will finish the season undefeated.
If that happens, it would not neccesarily guarantee a birth in the National Championship game. If an SEC school, Alabama or Florida, and Oregon finish the season undefeated, both teams would likely finish above K-State at #1 and #2 leaving K-State out of the mix. Fact of the matter is, Kansas State does not have the name recognition to jump either of those 2 teams. The SEC will work itself out by the end of the year due to SEC championship game, which will likely be a match up between #1 Alabama and #2 Florida.
The biggest question mark for K-State is Chris Harper’s former school, Oregon. The Ducks are #2 in just about every poll not named BCS. Unlike Kansas State, the meat of Oregons schedule is still left on the table. After this week’s showdown against lowly Colorado, the Ducks will play 3 of their remaining 4 games on the road, including trips to #9 USC and #7 Oregon State. The lone home matchup will be against #17 Stanford on Nov. 17. If the Ducks make it through that, they will then have to play a PAC 12 championship game against the PAC 12 south winner, likely USC. A 13-0 Oregon team likely jumps a 12-0 Kansas State team, but theres a long road ahead for the #4 Oregon Ducks.
Lets face it, Kansas State is a legitimate contender for the BCS National Championship, and has a QB that is the unquestioned leader for the Heisman trophy. At this point, both a berth in the National Championship, and a Heisman trophy are likely K-States to lose. The only thing standing in there way is 5 hungry teams ready to give K-State their best shot. Next up for the Cats, a visit from the #14th ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders. A win will solidify their title credentials, a loss throws K-State into a 3 way tie for first place in the Big 12 conference. The road to Miami starts Saturday.