The Kansas State football team revealed its initial two-deep depth chart ahead of the Wildcats’ Sep. 4 matchup against Stanford.
The college football season is nearly here, and the Wildcats will be on centerstage against the Cardinal in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The two teams face off in the Allstate Kickoff Classic, a game that is one of few non-conference Power 5 matchups this weekend.
“What a great experience for our players to be able to go out and play at AT&T (Stadium) where the Cowboys play,” Kansas State head football coach Chris Klieman said during an Aug. 31 press conference. “I thought that was going to be a great experience for our players for our fan base, and the fact that this is a year where we get the five home games conference rather than the four. So, with the schedule we had we were able to work this out so that we can still have the seven home games for our great fans.”
Stanford and Kansas State have only met once on the gridiron, with the Cardinal winning 27-13 in 2016. The Wildcats are 3-1 in season openers against the PAC-12, with that 2016 loss being the only one. The 2021 matchup looks to be close either way, according to Klieman.
“Coach (David) Shaw does a phenomenal job,” Klieman said. “They’re going to make you beat them, they’re not going to beat themselves. So, that’s why I think it’s going to be a four-quarter game. I’m looking forward to watching to see how we respond when we do have adversity and how we respond as the game goes on.”
For a fan base that historically travels well, the Wildcat faithful are expected to make the trek down to Texas in droves and support the home opener.
Both teams are coming off the odd football season that was 2020. While both programs won four games, Stanford went 4-2 and Kansas State tumbled into a 4-6 finish. Both teams are well outside the current Top 25, according to ESPN’s College Football Power Index. A win for the Wildcats will certainly set the tone for the 2021 season, both nationally and in the Big 12.
Kansas State football: Wildcats get set for Stanford Cardinal
The 2020 season had its highlights, led by the win over then-third ranked Oklahoma in an offensive shootout. Ultimately, injuries and a lean offseason contributed to a down year for the Wildcats.
“The whole year was tough,” starting senior quarterback Skylar Thompson said, according to the Salina Journal. “It was just one thing after another. For me personally, it was a challenging year, but it was also a great learning opportunity and an opportunity to grow from. I’ve been really pleased with our team’s progress and my progress as a person over the past eight months — this offseason — and we’re really excited to get to the season and get to work.”
Even with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, Klieman is confident in this not impacting the Wildcats this weekend.
“We have just a couple of kids that are coming off of a close contact or quarantine,” Klieman said, according to Kansas State. “We’re doing a good job of keeping our social distance and not running into situations that could potentially be positive.”
Knock on wood, COVID-19 cases will not affect the final outcome in Saturday’s game in Arlington.
Sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn spoke of the importance of opening the season in AT&T Stadium.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Vaughn said, according to Kansas State. “This is a stadium I’ve been to a couple of times just for NFL games. When my dad coached for Ole Miss, there was a Cotton Bowl one year, so I got to go to that when I was super young. When I was younger, I thought that this is the stadium I want to play in when I grow up. For that to come to fruition is pretty cool, and I’m super excited to get down there with my teammates.”
The game kicks off Sept. 4, at 11:00 a.m. Wildcat time. Fans can watch the game on FS1, with Aaron Goldsmith and Mark Helfrich calling the game. The game will also be available via the K-State Sports Network where, for the 18th season, Wyatt Thompson will lead the play-by-play with former Wildcats quarterback Stan Weber joining him in the booth.