When Kansas State's trip to Iowa State was shifted to early September to please the Big 12's television partners, it seemed like a disadvantage for the Wildcats.
It might not be so bad after all.
No. 20 Kansas State didn't look like it needed a few extra weeks to prep for its league opener after dismantling Stephen F. Austin 55-16 last weekend.
Meanwhile, the Cyclones must host their first Top 25 opponent of the year Saturday — just a week after a disheartening 34-14 loss to FCS power North Dakota State.
"I thought we played well," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "And maybe the best way to put it is perhaps not quite as consistent as you would like to be. In instances where we may have made a bad play, bad decision or did not execute well at some point in the ballgame, the same opportunities arose, and we were successful at it."
That's exactly what the Cyclones failed to do against the Bison.
After jumping out to a 14-0 lead, Mark Mangino's debut as Iowa State's offensive coordinator sputtered. The Cyclones crumbled after losing center Tom Farniok and star wide receiver Quenton Bundrage and North Dakota State closed the game with 34 unanswered points.
"We started fast, and I think trying to be consistently fast throughout the game is something that we need to work on. It's a new system, and we're getting a feel for it," Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson said.
Here are some of the key points to consider as Snyder goes for his 19th win in 23 tries against Iowa State.
WHY CAN'T WE GET GUYS LIKE THAT? Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and led St. Albert to a pair of state championships. But Waters didn't get much FBS interest, so he headed to Iowa Western Community College after high school. Waters has since blossomed into one of the top quarterbacks in the Big 12, and Saturday he'll go for his second straight win over the team he grew up hoping to play for.
Waters threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for two TDs in the win over Stephen F. Austin. "It is going to be a special experience for me, going there as a kid and seeing the games and not knowing if I was going to be able to play there. But I have to treat it like every other game," Waters said.
LACK OF D: Iowa State's defense didn't exactly assuage concerns about its ability to stop opponents in the opener. The Cyclones allowed 299 yards rushing and 204 yards passing without forcing a turnover. "We didn't get off blocks well enough as a defensive unit, and we didn't get enough people to the ball," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
REUNION: Saturday's matchup will mark the return the Big 12 return of Mangino, who worked under Snyder from 1991-98 before competing against his old boss as the head coach at rival Kansas.
Mangino took a few years off after leaving the Jayhawks before returning to the game as an assistant at Youngstown State in 2013.
Snyder said he visited with Mangino before he went to Youngstown, and "he was anxious and ready to get back. I think he enjoyed his time up there, and he just wanted to continue to move," Snyder said.
RUNNING IN CIRCLES: The Cyclones would like to establish a solid ground game this season behind backs Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy. But the pair combined for just 44 yards on 11 carries against North Dakota State — though Wimberly flashed his playmaking ability on a 16-yard TD run to open the scoring.
BISON BOUNCEBACK: If any team in the league knows how to bounce back from a loss to North Dakota State, it's Kansas State. The Wildcats fell to the Bison 24-21 in their 2013 opener before bouncing back with eight wins and a bowl victory over Michigan. The Cyclones are hoping for a similar recovery this season, but that challenge got tougher Thursday when starting tackle Jacob Gannon quit the team.
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