Kansas St Wildcats 2023 College Football Preview
July 20, 2023
Record – 10-4
ATS – 9-5
The Wildcats shrugged off a home loss to Tulane and a pair of conference defeats (at TCU, Texas) and found their way to the Big 12 Championship Game. Once they got to the big dance they took down previously undefeated TCU in a wild OT classic (W 31-28). The program had been building for a special season under HC Chris Klieman and it was great to see them GIT ER DONE. Kansas St got smoked in the Sugar Bowl by ROLL TIDE (L 45-20), but there’s some consolation knowing it was a 777,000 unit MEGALOCKS BOWL GAME OF THE HALF-MILLENNIUM SHARP STEAM LOCK winner.
Kansas St Wildcats 2023 Outlook
The Wildcats displayed impressive balance LY (208 YPG rush, 211 YPG pass) and averaged 30+ PPG (32.3, #6 Big 12) first the first time since 2017. Kansas St will be without their top-two weapons from LY in WR Malik Knowles (725, 15.1, 2 TD) and All-Universe RB Deuce Vaughn who was one of the best players in college football in 2022 (1,558 rush, 9 TD, 42 receptions). The good news is that Will Howard is back at QB and he’ll have a full season to stretch his legs (15-4 TD to INT LY). #2 RB DJ Giddens (518, 6 TD, 5.8) and Florida St transfer Treshaun Ward (628, 6.6) will be one of the best duos in the Big 12 and they’ll have the privilege of running behind one of the premier offensive lines in the nation (five returning starters). The WR/TE group looks average but they’ve got a pair of decent WRs in Phillip Brooks and former Iowa Hawkeye Keagan Johnson. And don’t sleep on TE Ben Sinnott who caught 31 balls LY (4 TD). This has the look of an “average” Big 12 offense with upside potential if the THROW GAME works out better than we think.
Kansas St featured one of the better stop units in the Big 12 LY as they ranked #3 in the conference in scoring defense (21.9 PPG) and #4 in total defense (375 YPG). They led the Big 12 in forced turnovers (24) and that was a yuuuge help to the offense. Only five starters are retained but the only glaring concern is a secondary that’ll need to find three new starters to complement ace CB Kobe Savage. The DL should be decent despite the loss of a first round (!) NFL DC and the LB corps is loaded with the return of #1 tackler Austin Moore (10 TFL) and Daniel Green. We project a downturn in performance but still believe they’ll be in the top-half of the Big 12 in most key defensive metrics.
DANGER ALERT. Kansas St has to replace the unreplaceable P/PK Ty Zentner who was an ace punter LY whilst hitting 11-11 FG attempts. Yup, that happened. We’re not thrilled with new full-time PK Chris Tennant (9-14 FG LY) and it stings to lose the great Deuce Vaughn on KR. At least Phillip Brooks is back at PR (TD LY).
Overall – The non-conference slate doesn’t feature any killers but the games vs Troy (H) and Missouri (A) won’t be slam dunks. The Big 12 assignments look average as they miss the Sooners but still have to face Texas (A) and TCU (H). If things are going well it’s good to know that their L2G are relatively soft (at Kansas, Iowa St).
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – Houston (Oct 28)
This looks like a tricky spot to lay points with the home favorite as Kansas St will be coming off a game with TCU (Horned Frogs revenge) with a road trip to Texas up next.
Season Win Total
Over 8 +100
Under 8 -130
Slight LEANAGE to the ‘under’ as we approach press time. This is still a quality team but it’s hard to see them going 9-3. If you like the ‘over’ be aware that there are several 7.5s out there, but you’ll have to swallow some extra juice.
Oklahoma leads the conference in Big 12 Championships by a ridiculous margin (14). Kansas St is tied in 2nd place with Baylor and Texas (3).
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It’s never easy to repeat as CHAMPS but the Wildcats are scrappy enough to give it their best shot. The offense should be fine and we like QB Will Howard quite a bit. We just worry that they won’t be explosive enough without Knowles and Vaughn. The defense isn’t a brick wall and the special teams are down a notch. We’ll call for seven or eight wins and a decent bowl game.