• 2011 record: 10-3 overall, 7-2 Big 12 (second)
• Key starters lost: DB Tysyn Hartman, OL Zach Hanson, OL Clyde Aufner, DB David Garrett, LB Emmanuel Lamur, DL Ray Kibble
• Key starters returning: QB Collin Klein, RB John Hubert, WR Chris Harper, DB Nigel Malone, DB Ty Zimmerman, LB Arthur Brown, OL B.J. Finney
• Banking on … Klein, one of the top running quarterbacks in the country last season, to become a more consistent passer. With Harper and Tyler Lockett to throw to, that is a possibility.
• Don’t bet on … K-State’s young and unproven offensive line. Cornelius Lucas, Keenan Taylor and Cody Whitehair will need to adjust to starting roles quickly. On the other side of the ball, it will be difficult for John Sua and Hakeem Akinola to fill the void left by Kibble at defensive tackle. The biggest question, though, is the secondary, which allowed 263 passing yards a game last year. Can they slow down the Big 12’s quarterbacks this season?
• Smart money is on … The Wildcats return 17 starters, including Brown at middle linebacker and most of their other leaders from last season. But trips to West Virginia and TCU make this year’s conference schedule harder. K-State won eight of its 10 games by razor-thin margins last year. It will need a bigger margin for error this time around.
| Kellis Robinett, firstname.lastname@example.org