Kansas State does not have a nonconference opponent from a power league on its 2015 football schedule, and it is unlikely to add one in 2016.
The Wildcats have contracts set for five nonconference games over the next two seasons (vs. South Dakota, at Texas-San Antonio, vs. Louisiana Tech in 2015 and then vs. Missouri State and Florida Atlantic in 2016) leaving one open slot. They hope to fill it with a similar opponent at home.
“That is the plan,” said Clint Dowdle, K-State’s assistant athletic director for administration who plays a major role in football scheduling. “We have one nonconference game to schedule for that year and we are working to fill it with a guarantee home game.”
Some have wondered if K-State would try to add a marquee opponent in 2016 after schedule strength became a main talking point for the Big 12 when its teams were shutout of the College Football Playoff, despite Baylor and TCU building strong arguments for inclusion. But the Wildcats appear more likely to wait until 2017, when they reportedly will travel to Vanderbilt, to play their next nonconference game against a team from a power-five league. They played host to Auburn last season.
In past years, ESPN has approached K-State about playing a neutral-site game at the start of the season — such as The Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta, the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas and the Texas Kickoff Classic in Houston — but Dowdle said K-State is not pursuing one of those games at this time.
Should the Wildcats one day show increased interest in a kickoff game, it likely would occur in an odd year, when K-State plays five home games in Big 12 play. K-State coach Bill Snyder and athletic director John Currie prefer to play at least seven home games every season, making road and neutral games undesirable in even years when K-State plays four Big 12 home games.
After the next two seasons, K-State will play a power-conference opponent in four consecutive years. In 2017, K-State will reportedly play at Vanderbilt on top of home games against Central Arkansas and Charlotte. In 2018, it will play Mississippi State. In 2019, it will travel to Mississippi State. And in 2020, it will reportedly host Vanderbilt in the return game of that series.
Other nonconference opponents on future K-State schedules include Texas-San Antonio in 2018 and Bowling Green in 2019. It has one game to fill in 2018 and 2019, and two open games in 2020.