Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: Best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Wildcats this football season

One day, they will stop making Fast & Furious movies. Until then, I will spend one week every summer watching the newest release and jamming as many references to the film franchise as I possibly can into this space.

Hobbs & Shaw, the latest offering from the FF universe, hits theaters on Friday. So do this K-State Q&A. Coincidence? I think not.

So let’s shift into a lower gear, fire up the NOS, say some sweet one-liners like “I don’t have have friend, I have family,” break the law, save the world and race into your questions. Thanks, as always, for providing them.

Like Dominic Toretto, I try to live my life a quarter mile at a time. So this is a tough one for me.

Looking ahead a few months and projecting best-case and worst-case scenarios doesn’t exactly jive with a ride-or-die lifestyle. But the words “ride” and “die” actually fit really well here, so let’s buckle up and make some projections.

Fast Five (best-case scenario): 8-4.

Very little is known about the four teams in the Big 12 that hired new coaches this off season. That’s the main reason why K-State, KU, Texas Tech and West Virginia were picked at the bottom of the conference’s preseason poll. The Wildcats’ best hope of piling up wins in Chris Klieman’s first season is to sweep those other three teams with new coaches. If K-State accomplishes that and also takes care of business early against Nicholls and Bowling Green then the Wildcats are almost certainly playing in a bowl game.

I don’t love the Cats’ chances against Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Texas, but they will be in every other game. I could see them winning three toss-ups against the likes of Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU and Iowa State.

If Skylar Thompson takes a big step forward, someone emerges at running back and the defense stays relatively healthy, I can see eight wins in 2019.

Tokyo Drift (worst-case scenario): 4-8.

Nicholls might be one of the 10 best FCS teams in the nation. Kansas and Texas Tech are both on the road. Baylor and Iowa State aren’t automatic wins anymore. It’s hard to envision the Wildcats towering over any team on their schedule this season, other than maybe Bowling Green.

If injuries mount at the wrong positions or the team struggles while adjusting to Klieman’s system, wins might not be easy to come by.

That being said, this team has too much pride and leadership for a truly disastrous season to unfold. Even under the worst of circumstances, they won’t fade into oblivion like Edwin (the loser street racer played by Ja Rule).

Klieman should be able to scrape together four wins. Seven home games will help.

The last time Skylar Thompson played at Boone Pickens Stadium he pulled off the college football equivalent of bringing down a jumbo jet with a car.

He threw for 213 yards and ran for 80 more that day, leading the Wildcats to a 45-40 victory. Oklahoma State was ranked No. 10 at the time, but the Cowboys had no answer for Thompson or the underdog Wildcats.

Why can’t he go to Stillwater and do it again?

K-State has owned Mike Gundy the past two seasons. I can see the Wildcats extending their winning streak in the series no matter how many games the Cowboys win this year.

Unlike street racing, victory margin matters in college football. It’s not the most important thing in the sport, but it definitely matters.

Klieman gets his first opportunity to truly impress K-State fans on Aug. 31 against Nicholls, and no one will be chanting his name if the Wildcats need a fourth-quarter comeback to win.

Fans would prefer the Wildcats win by a mile.

That’s not to say a narrow victory or even a loss will define anything about his K-State career moving forward. Example: the Wildcats opened with an ugly 10-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky in 2011 and went on to win 10 games that season.

Still, as a new coach there will be lots of attention placed on those early games.

If Klieman comes out “granny shifting, not double-clutching like you should” there will be disgruntled fans.

That probably won’t mean anything to the team or coaching staff, as they will be trying to win every game, regardless.

And no one internally will complain about winning, because, well ...

Klieman is all about winning the dang day. That sounds like someone who stays in the moment and resists looking ahead.

Come to think of it, he probably watched The Fast and The Furious for inspiration before he gave his introductory speech to the K-State football team last December.

This made me laugh harder than a one-liner from Roman Pearce. I actually wondered the same thing when I saw Bill Snyder show up at Kansas City Chiefs training camp wearing a suit earlier this week.

I asked Snyder this question a few years ago. It was at a summer K-State function and most everyone in attendance was wearing shorts. No one sported anything nicer than a polo shirt ... except for Snyder.

He was rocking a black suit and a yellow tie.

I asked him if he considered wearing something more casual. But he shook his head like Brian O’Conner at the thought of driving a Dodge Charger.

His reply: “What else would I wear?”

Quick side story: The only time Snyder has ever complimented my clothing was when I wore a suit to his Hall of Fame induction party.

We’ve seen Snyder in windbreakers and there are pictures floating around of him online wearing button-down shirts without a sports coat. I’ve even heard rumors of him wearing a sweat suit around town. Surely he has other clothes somewhere in his closet.

But he does love wearing a suit.

It’s almost time to trade in that Corona for an Octoberfest.

Just typing that sentence excites me. Octoberfest is probably my favorite of all seasonal beers. Pumpkin beers are pretty awesome, too. And now I’m thinking about Christmas Ale. Oh man!

I need tap the brakes and drift for a second.

There probably needs to be at least a hint of cooler temperatures in the air to truly enjoy a good fall beer. As much as I love Octoberfest, I don’t want to drink it if it’s 100 degrees outside.

Then again, why wait? One year I waited a bit too long to buy my first 12-pack of Octoberfest. I didn’t start looking for it until it was actually October and I had trouble finding any around town. Now I buy it as soon as it hits the shelves, even if it’s still August.

My advice: buy it now, enjoy it next month. Or crank up the air conditioning in your home and drink it today. Do what you want. I’m not going to say, “too soon, junior.”

Besides, no one judges Toretto for drinking Corona all year long. But he really should take up Mr. Nobody on his offer and try Belgian Ale at some point.

If you’ve been away that long I would recommend driving around town a bit before you do anything. The east side of Manhattan has exploded with new businesses and restaurants. That area looks completely different than it did a few short years ago.

The differences are as vast as the evolution of the Fast & Furious movies. In the beginning, they were just racing cars. Now they’re basically super heroes.

There was a time I didn’t think Manhattan would ever have a Chick-fil-a or a Five Guys. And now we have both!

But if you’re looking for something to eat/drink I would recommend heading downtown. Poyntz (and the surrounding area) is a lot cooler than it used to be now that it has Tallgrass, Bourbon & Baker, Pool House and Wine Dive.

You can never go wrong with Aggieville, but Poyntz is a fun area for a slightly older crowd that wasn’t around five years ago.

It’s always fun talking football with Collin Klein, and I’m looking forward to chatting with him more than usual this upcoming season.

By all accounts, he is a good young assistant.

Klieman badly wanted to retain him as quarterbacks coach, and so did offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham.

He’s definitely settling in to his new job. He reminds me a bit of Tej Parker, portrayed by Ludacris, who gave up street racing and then found success in his next venture as the best circuit man on the east coast.

The biggest difference with Klein now vs. his playing days is his body. He was big for a quarterback at K-State, and that’s one of the reasons he was able to avoid injury while playing like a battering ram. Today, he has slimmed down so much that he looks more like a golfer.

Two things have surprised me in the Big 12.

I think people are over-rating West Virginia. They lost a ton from last season, including their coach, but they are still receiving votes in the top 25. And one betting service gave the Mountaineers 12-to-1 odds to win the conference, behind only Oklahoma and Texas.

Maybe I’m wrong, but they look like Busters to me.

Baylor, on the other hand, has a solid team coming back and it gets to play a pillow-soft schedule this season. The Bears look ready to assemble in Brazil and take down the most powerful man in all of Rio.

On a more national level, I don’t believe in Nebraska. Not yet, anyway. But many have the Cornhuskers in the top 20.