Time to find out if K-State has what it takes to contend again

The Kansas State Wildcats went down to the final game of the 2014 season with a chance to share the conference crown.

A loss at Baylor turned the Wildcats away, and that might have been their best shot at a piece of the Big 12 title for the foreseeable future. K-State certainly isn't expected to contend in 2015. Most preseason predictions pegged Bill Snyder's bunch to finish in the middle of the pack. And when starting quarterback Jesse Ertz was lost for the season in the opener, forcing in a replacement who had never started a game at the position at any level, even those projections seemed rosy.

Still, the Wildcats managed to get through a lightweight, three-game non-conference schedule unscathed, although barely, needing overtime at home to dump Louisiana Tech.

Now the schedule goes full Big 12, starting Saturday at No. 20 Oklahoma State, followed by No. 4 TCU, No. 15 Oklahoma, an improving Texas team (despite the 1-3 record) and No. 5 Baylor.

To say K-State's bye week came at just the right time last week is an understatement.

"I always say ask me after we play the next ballgame and we'll see if it had an impact on the outcome of that ballgame," K-State coach Bill Snyder said to the Topeka Capital-Journal last week. "By and large, I'd say it's worked out well."

At the least, K-State has had time for bumps and bruises attained in the first three games to heal up a bit, and Hubener has had an extra week to get in tune with the offense and his weapons.

"I think we made probably a little headway," Snyder said during this week's Big 12 teleconference. "We wanted to be able to get a little bit of rest, and I think we accomplished that. We wanted to try and get a little healthier, and maybe some of the bumps and bruises have healed a little bit better. We put a great deal of attention on some of the issues that we've had and some of the things that we needed to improve upon. Not collectively, but a substantial amount of improvement has been made in a number of those areas.

"Still, we have a ways to go. The opportunity to spend time on Oklahoma State, we were able to invest some time there, as well."