by EMAW Online Staff
ansas State, the defending Big 12 champions, open their quest for a repeat Saturday night by hosting SEMO at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The No. 16-ranked Wildcats are seeking their sixth season-opening win in the last seven years. It will be the first time the Wildcats and Redhawks meet on the gridiron, while it is the first against a current member of the Ohio Valley/Big South Conference since defeating Tennessee Tech in 2009.
How to watch?
Kickoff: 6 p.m.
Location: Manhattan, Kan.
Stadium: Bill Snyder Family Stadium (50,000)
Series: First Meeting
TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+ (watch)
Mark Neely (Play-by-Play)
Adam Breneman (Analyst)
Tory Petry (Sidelines)
Radio: K-State Sports Network; k-statesports.com (Listen)
Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play)
Stan Weber (Analyst)
Matt Walters (Sidelines)
129 – Non-offensive TDs by the Wildcats since 1999, the most in the nation and seven more than the next best team (Alabama).
119 – Total returning career starts by K-State offensive linemen, including all 70 starts from a year ago.
90.9 – Red zone percentage by the Wildcats since 2019, which ranks second among returning Big 12 teams.
75.6 – Career winning % by Chris Klieman, which ranks fourth nationally among FBS coaches with at least 10 years experience.
21.4 – Points per game allowed by K-State over the last two seasons, ranking second among returning Big 12 teams.
CATS IN LID LIFTERS
Entering its 128th year of football, Kansas State holds an all-time record of 87-35-5 (70.5%) in season openers, including a 29-4 (87.9%) mark since 1990.
Chris Klieman, who enters his 11th year as a head coach, has earned an 8-2 (80.0%) record in season openers.
All-time, Kansas State is 94-28-5 (76.0%) in home openers, while head coach Chris Klieman is 8-2 (80.0%) in home openers as a head coach.
Since 1990, K-State holds a 94-19 (83.2%) record in regular-season non-conference games.• That stretch includes an 80-9 (89.9%) mark at home. During those 30 years (excluding the one-game non-conference schedule in 2020), the Wildcats have had perfect regular season non-conference ledgers 17 times and unblemished marks at home on 24 occasions.
A WINNING TRADITION
Kansas State has been one of the best Big 12 teams since the inception of the conference in 1996. The Wildcats are third with 134 victories, trailing only Oklahoma and Texas.
The Wildcats are also third in the conference in winning percentage since round-robin play began in 2011. They sit at 59.3% (64-44), trailing only Oklahoma (77.6%; 83-25) and Oklahoma State (64.8%; 70-38).
During that stretch, the Wildcats are 35-19 (64.8%) at home in Big 12 play and 29-25 (53.7%) on the road.
OH CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
Kansas State will utilize the services of seven team captains in 2023, tied for the second-most captains in a single season in school history.
This will be the third time in head coach Chris Klieman‘s five seasons that K-State will use seven captains, which include offensive linemen Cooper Beebe and Hayden Gillum, linebacker Daniel Green, quarterback Will Howard, linebacker Austin Moore, wide receiver Seth Porter and safety Kobe Savage. Gillum, Moore and Porter started as walk-ons in the program.
Interestingly, Porter’s captaincy marks the third time in school history that a father-son duo will serve as captains as his father, Mark, was a team captain in 1988. The other two are Kevin (1996) and Tyler (2013, 2014) Lockett as well as Stan (1984 – current K-State Sports Network analyst) and Stanton (2015) Weber.
For the first time in six seasons, Kansas State will enter a season ranked in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the AFCA Coaches Poll as they checked in at No. 16 and No. 17, respectively.
K-State’s No. 16 preseason ranking in the AP Poll is its highest since beginning the 2004 campaign at No. 13.
TOUGH SLATE AHEAD
In addition to having a target on their backs after winning the Big 12 in 2022 and entering the season in the top 20, the Wildcats will face a difficult schedule in 2023.
The 12 opponents K-State will face during the regular season combined for a 60.8% winning clip in 2022, which is the 10th-highest percentage in the nation.
K-State is one of just four teams in the nation to play 11 games in 2023 against teams that made the postseason in 2022. Two of the other three programs that will face 11 postseason teams from last year reside in the Big 12 in Iowa State and Texas, in addition to Ole Miss.