GOOD MORNING WILDCAT FANS, IT’S GAME DAY!
Welcome to the first open game thread of the 2021 season. We’re excited to be back, ready to get this party started.
For the first time since the last time your Kansas State Wildcats played the Stanford Cardinal (2016), the Wildcats open the season with a Power 5 opponent. Which, by itself isn’t all that uncommon, as most P5 teams like to schedule a “weaker” opponent to start the season to shake the cobwebs off. But in this case it’s a fun bit of serendipity that the Wildcats will get to face off against the team that screwed up the start of the 2016 season (hoping, of course, not to screw up the start of this season). This time, however, the Wildcats will be the “home” team (at least inasmuch as a team playing 8 hours from home can be the home team).
In other bits of coincidence, the 2016 Cats were headed into the season with a seasoned starting QB in Jesse Ertz, but who had been on the sideline for most of the previous season after an injury early (in Jesse’s case, the first game of the 2015 season).
Grandpa Skylar Thompson returns this season after spending the bulk of 2020 on the sideline thanks to that cheap shot hit from Texas Tech’s Riko Jeffers (no, I’m not still bitter, why do you ask?). And like in 2016, the Wildcats and Cardinal open the season in an NFL stadium. Seriously. Wait, you don’t remember that Super Bowl XIX was played there in 1985? Or that the 49ers played a game there in 1989 thanks to damage at Candlestick? Oh, just me? Okay, I’ll move on.
Anyway, these 2021 Wildcats will be looking for a strong start to the season after injuries and COVID turned the 2020 season upside down. The 4-6 record doesn’t show that headed into the last weekend of October, the Wildcats were 4-1 with a win over Oklahoma and had distant visions of a Big 12 title attempt. The end of that season left a bad taste in the mouths of the Wildcats, and hopefully Stanford can be a palate cleanser.
It certainly won’t be easy though, and Stanford’s 4-2 record included four straight wins to end the season, in four straight road games, including a win at then-ranked Washington. Interesting side note: their last home game was a loss to Colorado on Nov. 14th, 2020 (in their second game of the season), and they won’t return home until Sept. 25th, when they face UCLA in their fourth game of this season (COVID and wildfires permitting). Yikes.
David Shaw’s crew is never an easy-out, even when they are struggling, and while their last full season (2019) they only went 4-8, it was the lone season they were under .500 in a decade, and they seemingly bounced back some in 2020 in the shortened season. But the Cardinal are still expected to finish just 4th in the Pac-12 North this season, and still haven’t named a starting QB headed into game one.
So the Wildcats may be catching Stanford before their sails have caught wind, and the score could look a little more lopsided as a result. Or it could be a brutal game like 2016, where we are left scratching our head, wondering what just happened. Let’s hope for the former.
We’ve got the early game today, with an 11am CT kickoff from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX being aired for a national audience on FS1 with Aaron Goldsmith (play-by-play) and Mark Helfrich (analyst) on the call. The game should also be available streaming via Fox Sports Live, if you already have the correct TV subscription. In a weird cross of national media providers, the game will also be aired nationally on ESPN Radio with coverage from Marc Kestecher (play-by-play), Max Starks (analyst), Jorge Sedano (analyst), and Mike Peasley (sidelines).
If for some reason you don’t get FS1, or can’t access the stream, the game can be heard across the 39-station K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), former K-State quarterback Stan Weber (analyst), and Matt Walters (sidelines) calling the action. The game will also be on Sirius channel 138, XM Channel 199, and available on the The Varsity Network app. Live stats are available at k-statesports.com, and Twitter updates (@KStateFB) will also be a part of the coverage.