The Kansas State football team hasn’t played in front of a bowl representative this season, but that will soon change.
With the Wildcats at 4-4 after back-to-back blowout victories, they look more like a team that will qualify for the postseason than a team that might reach bowl eligibility.
It’s still early, of course. With four games remaining they could finish anywhere from 8-4 to 4-8. They could play in a nice postseason game. They might not make the postseason at all.
But it’s never too early to examine where K-State might end up if it finishes with six or more victories. So let’s give it a whirl.
At this point, there are three main possibilities. The Texas Bowl looks like the early favorite. The Holiday Bowl could become an option if K-State finishes strong. The Pinstripe Bowl is a long shot.
I suppose the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is also a slight possibility, but K-State would need to finish 8-4 and receive help to move up that high.
Before we further examine those bowl scenarios, here is the Big 12′s bowl order.
1. BCS – Tostitos Fiesta
2. AT&T Cotton (vs. SEC)
3. Valero Alamo (vs. Pac-12)
4. Buffalo Wild Wings (vs. Big Ten)
5. National University Holiday (vs. Pac-12)
6. Texas (vs. Big Ten)
7. New Era Pinstripe (vs. American)
The Big 12 currently has five bowl-eligible teams and could realistically finish with seven. It’s way too early to say who will win the league and go to the BCS, but it seems likely that Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will receive the first four bowl invites.
Texas Tech could also be in that mix, but the Red Raiders are a bit of a wild card. They got off to a red-hot start, but their closing schedule is difficult. Their final three games are at home against K-State, in Arlington against Baylor and at Texas. A few more wins could vault them up the bowl order. A few more losses could drop them to the Texas Bowl.
K-State can also help/hurt itself quite a bit this month.
A victory over Texas Tech brings the Holiday Bowl into play. A victory over Texas Tech followed by a win over Oklahoma could bring the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl into play. There is no guarantee the Wildcats can catch either team in the Big 12 standings, but head-to-head wins are always meaningful.
On the flip side, a loss to Texas Tech means the Texas Bowl is K-State’s most likely destination. K-State can’t catch Texas Tech in the standings with a loss this weekend.
K-State’s remaining games are at Texas Tech, at home against TCU and Oklahoma and at Kansas. It will be favored against TCU and Kansas. As long as it wins those games it will be bowl eligible, with the Texas Bowl the most likely landing spot. It is the Big 12′s sixth bowl tie-in, and K-State is currently sixth in the conference standings.
West Virginia (4-5) could pass K-State if it wins its remaining games (Texas, at Kansas, Iowa State). But the Wildcats clobbered the Mountaineers two weeks ago. If both teams finish 6-6 or 7-5, K-State will get priority. Unless West Virginia wins out, it appears destined for the Pinstripe Bowl.
Several possibilities remain for K-State. Its bowl hopes will be decided in its final four games, with an important one Saturday.