This is the game Kansas State football fans — and apparently some players — have been looking forward to all summer.
The Wildcats will take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium a week after surviving their opener against South Dakota, an opponent some K-State players admitted they overlooked with a ranked foe up next on the schedule.
The No. 18 Bulldogs are the first ranked nonconference opponent to come to town since Auburn in 2014 and the second since Southern California in 2002. It should be an electric atmosphere in Manhattan. This is without a doubt K-State’s biggest nonconference game of the season.
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Kickoff: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan
Radio: 1480 AM in Wichita (KQAM), 610 AM in Kansas City (KCSP)
Spread: Mississippi State by 7 1/2
Five things to know
- The Bulldogs cruised in their opening game and steamrolled FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin 63-6. Mississippi State did whatever it wanted from start to finish and amassed 618 yards of offense while holding the Lumberjacks to 254.
- Nick Fitzgerald will make his first start of the season at quarterback after serving a one-game suspension over the weekend. The Bulldogs didn’t need him against SFA, with backup Keytaon Thompson throwing for 364 yards and five touchdowns. But there is apparently no QB controversy in Starkville. Fitzgerald has thrown for 4,400 yards and 39 touchdowns during his college career and is ready to lead the offense against K-State. But will he have any first-game jitters?
- It’s rare for the Wildcats to play a ranked team this early. This is only the fifth time K-State has encountered a top 25 team before the start of conference play during the Snyder era. It’s even rarer for the Wildcats to win this type of game. K-State’s last regular-season victory over a ranked nonconference team came 16 years ago against USC.
- New Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead stepped into an excellent situation in Starkville. Dan Mullen did not leave the roster bare when he departed for Florida during the offseason. After previously serving as offensive coordinator at Penn State, Moorhead seems poised to revolutionize an offense that features running back Aeris Williams, an experienced offensive line and several up-and-coming receivers. So far, they seem to be a good match.
- Keep an eye on K-State’s quarterback shuffle. Skylar Thompson was far from impressive against South Dakota, but his go-ahead touchdown pass to Isaiah Zuber in the fourth quarter probably earned him another start at quarterback this week. Alex Delton had his moments in the opener, but wasn’t accurate with his passes and threw a costly pick six. Thompson and Delton split snaps almost evenly in Week 1. Will K-State coaches lean on one in Week 2?