There are three things you should know about the Kansas State football team when it comes to nonconference games with Chris Klieman as head coach:
1. The Wildcats have gone a perfect 4-0 against FCS teams since he took over in 2019.
2. K-State is also undefeated against power-conference teams during that time, going 3-0 with memorable wins over Mississippi State, Stanford and Missouri.
3. Every other situation has given the Wildcats problems, as they are just 2-2 against FBS teams from outside the power conferences.
K-State football players don’t need to be reminded about No. 3, as most of them vividly remember losing to Tulane 17-10 last season at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Some of them were also around when they lost to Arkansas State 35-31 in 2020.
With a home game against Troy next on the schedule, the Wildcats are taking special precautions in hopes of avoiding a repeat of those results.
“We don’t want to have a moment like that where we have to have a little reality check to learn from,” K-State quarterback Will Howard said. “We don’t want to have a hiccup. I think we did a really good responding from that, but we don’t want to have that happen again.”
In hindsight, both of K-State’s nonconference losses under Klieman can be explained without a deep dive into the box scores.
Arkansas State beat K-State during a pandemic season that the coaching staff was ill equipped to handle. Plenty of weird stuff happened that fall. Last season, Tulane turned out to be a remarkable team that won 12 games and beat USC in the Cotton Bowl.
But it’s also possible that K-State overlooked Tulane as it was coming off an emotional victory over Missouri the week before.
“We had a little bit of a letdown last year,” Howard said. “Definitely, this year, we’re stressing that every week is a one-week season. Every week is equally important.”
Still, the Wildcats lost both games as significant home favorites. That is never good.
Klieman did some soul searching after both of those defeats.
“Any team can beat you if you don’t have your A game,” Klieman said. “That’s not just physically, that’s mentally and that’s emotionally.”
It shouldn’t be hard for Klieman to get his players up for Game 2 this season.
It would be foolish for K-State to look past Troy, even with Missouri looming in Game 3. The Trojans are coming off a 12-win season in which they claimed a Sun Belt championship and won the Cure Bowl. They have also won 12 straight games following a 48-30 victory over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday.
The only team in college football with a longer active winning streak? Defending national champion Georgia.
If the Wildcats have learned anything from their previous defeats in nonconference play, they will be ready for this game.
“Troy is a tremendous team,” K-State offensive lineman Cooper Beebe said. “They really should have had 13 wins last year. They lost one on a Hail Mary. We know this is no pushover. This is definitely a team that’s going to come in and want to take us down. They’ve been in big-time games. We know we can’t look past them.”