Kansas State kicks off the conference portion of the 2023 season tonight against UCF at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Game time is 7:00 PM CDT and will be broadcast on FS1. As always, for all game-related details, check out the How To Watch post.
This is the first-ever Big 12 game for the UCF Knights, but not the first time the two teams have met. That happened back in 2010, and for good reason, the day’s weather was more memorable than the actual game.
The Wildcats won the sloppy contest that day, so let’s hope the outcome is repeated, but not the weather or the up-and-down play.
The news around this game has not been that great for Kansas State. The team is already coming off a wrenching road loss to Missouri, a fact made worse by injuries to several key player. Linebacker Daniel Green is probably lost for the season, a real blow to the team and to Green’s pro prospects which he set aside to return to college this year. Running back Treshaun Ward, who has gotten most of the carries so far this season, is listed as doubtful for this game. The one bright spot is that Will Howard, slowly recovering from his on-field injury, might actually return.
Also, there’s finally some good news on the injured personnel front. Right tackle Christian Duffie is likely to return to the lineup tonight. This is huge, because it means left guard Cooper Beebe can return to his usual spot, and pass protection should improve a lot.
Overall, the program’s next man up philosophy is going to help here. Fingers crossed.
Kansas State is favored (-3.5) in the game, but injuries to both teams—UCF’s starting quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is also out—could turn this into a defensive slugfest. UCF has mostly relied on its rushing attack to put up nation-leading offensive numbers. Luckily, the Cats have not struggled against the run so much this season, so a low-scoring affair is probably on the cards.
On the plus side for the Wildcats, the team is extremely angry about the Missouri game. Last year, the Cats turned disappointment from the Tulane game into motivation that morphed into a road win against a then-undefeated Oklahoma team. Maybe we’ll get a repeat performance?
Let’s go, Cats! Win the dang day!
(Reminder that this is your early game Open Thread!)