Kansas State ranked behind five Big 12 teams in AP poll

18 Aug

One step forward, two steps back. The Wildcats finally received a little recognition, a bit of the benefit of the doubt in national polls … only to be listed the lowest of all teams from their conference.

After going 10-2 in the 2011 regular season and earning a berth in the Cotton Bowl, Kansas State received a modicum of respect. This year, voters for both major preseason polls – Associated Press and USA Today – placed Kansas State in the nation’s top 25. The Wildcats are No. 22 in the AP poll and No. 21 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

What is somewhat surprising, though, at least to this writer, is how many Big 12 teams have been ranked above Kansas State – Oklahoma at No. 4, West Virginia at No. 11, Texas at No. 15, Oklahoma State at No. 19 and TCU at No. 20.

Last season the Wildcats defeated Texas and nearly defeated the hot-as-all-get-out Cowboys in Stillwater. Kansas State did not play West Virginia or TCU in 2011, but both those teams come to the Big 12 from conferences not nearly as well represented in the Top 25 … meaning the level of competition they faced each week was significantly lower for them than it was for the Wildcats.

Oklahoma is justified, sure, but Oklahoma State is minus its unearthly tandem of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, and Texas is 13-12 over the last two seasons.

I am not saying Kansas State should be in the Top 10 or anything – not yet, anyway – but it seems to me a bit of a stretch to project that there are five teams better than the Wildcats in their own conference. Time will tell, of course, but watching Kansas State’s unprecedented run last season made me a believer.

With Bill Snyder at the helm, Collin Klein and Arthur Brown emerging into bigger leadership roles than ever in their senior seasons, and more returning players than the Wildcats have had in years, I would think this is the season you go out on a limb and give Kansas State an edge over some of its flashier opponents.

Of course, maybe the slight of being picked to finish sixth in the 10-team Big 12 will do the Wildcats good. After all, they certainly flourished in the underdog role last season.

In the preseason polls of 2011, coaches picked the Wildcats to finish eighth in the Big 12. As mentioned countless times later on, Kansas State finished the season No. 8 in the country. Poll, schmoll.

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