Coach: Bill Snyder
Coach Year at school: 21st
2011 record: 10-3, 7-2 Big 12
Last year vs. KU: The Wildcats scored three touchdowns in the first 4:30 of the third quarter on their way to a 59-21 rout of the Jayhawks in Lawrence.
Returning starters: 18
Impact newcomers: Tavon Rooks, 6-6, 270, OL; Marquez Clark, 6-0, 180, WR.
Key games: Sept. 8 vs. Miami (Fla.); Sept. 22 at Oklahoma; Dec. 1 vs. Texas.
Vs. Kansas: Oct. 6 in Manhattan.
Note: This story is a part of the 2012 KU football preview section that appears in Sunday's Journal-World.
After finishing 10-3 in 2011, which included a trip to the Cotton Bowl, Kansas State was picked sixth in the Big 12 preseason poll.
Why so low? Well, for one, it’s going to be tough for KSU to win the same way that it did last season.
The Wildcats were 8-1 in games decided by seven points or less and rallied for four wins after trailing in the fourth quarter.
They also seemed to come up with a big defensive play right when they needed it, tying for 12th in the nation with 18 interceptions.
“Do we perform better as, quote-unquote, underdogs? That I don’t know. I haven’t seen any statistics in that regard,” KSU coach Bill Snyder said, when asked about being picked sixth in the conference. “Last year, obviously we played reasonably well in those circumstances.
“I have a greater concern about game by game when we are perhaps selected as favorites in a ballgame. I think that, as any coach probably would say, that’s where your greatest concern lies, just not making sure that young people don’t take things for granted.”
KSU’s strength will once again be its offense, especially with quarterback Collin Klein returning for his senior year.
Klein, who was as high as No. 2 on some Heisman ballots last year, set new KSU QB records with 1,141 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns in 2011.
He also added 1,918 yards passing while earning a spot on the All-Big 12 first team.
“He has made tremendous improvement during his time in the program and it’s happened because of the quality of person that Collin is,” Snyder said. “Collin is one of those young guys ... truly committed to becoming better every single day of his life in all facets of his life.”
Junior running back John Hubert returns after posting 970 rushing yards last year, as does senior wideout Chris Harper, who notched a team-high 40 receptions a year ago.
The Wildcats’ biggest unknown offensively is on the line, where the Wildcats will be replacing three starters.
Defensively, KSU is led by linebacker Arthur Brown, who transferred in from Miami (Fla.). The senior was the Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year in 2011 after contributing 101 tackles, 9.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks.
Senior Nigel Malone is the best returning player in the secondary, earning second-team All-American honors last year after posting 58 tackles and seven interceptions.