Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
There are a few guarantees K-State fans have grown used to in the Bill Snyder era: the team will exceed its preseason expectations; a junior college transfer few have heard of will become one of the conference’s best at his position; special teams magic; and an FCS school will be featured on the schedule. This year that team is the North Dakota State Bison. The question is whether K-State should apologize for the opponent. The answer is no. Correction: emphatically no.
Playing an FCS school for a season opening game should be a welcome opportunity to the Wildcats. Bill Snyder is working with a team that’s featuring a new quarterback, a completely overhauled defense, and new #1 wide receiver. The game should be an opportunity to get all these issues sorted out. That won’t be the case in 2013 against NDSU.
NDSU was the 2012 FCS National Champion. They didn’t just win the championship game – they completely blew out Sam Houston State 39-13 on their way to 14-1 record. NDSU also featured an FBS school on their schedule last year in Colorado State. They won that game 22-7 while outgaining the Rams 366-243 in yardage, forcing two turnovers, and winning the time of possession battle 40:20 (yes, exactly a 2:1 ratio). If K-State opened up against a Mountain West Conference team this year, no one would say anything. Instead, they’re opening against a team that destroyed a MWC team.
If what I’m saying scares you a little, it should. NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen returns for his senior year after completing over 60 percent of his passes last year. He also threw for 17 touchdowns and rushed for 12 more. He has developed into a dangerous threat to pass or run the ball. The Bison defense gave up more than 20 points in one game – a 33-21 victory over Northern Iowa (Northern Iowa also scored 21 points in a 26-21 loss to Wisconsin last year). This is not a team to be trifled with.
As a general rule, you’re not going to find a solid defense of K-State’s schedule on this site. I love that we had a home-and-home series against Miami in 2011 and 2012 (even if the team had lost both games I’d still support the endeavor). But the 2013 nonconference schedule isn’t exactly filled with heavyweights – NDSU may be the best team of a list that also includes Louisiana Lafayette and UMass. The point is, if you hear any KU fans talking smack on K-State’s noncon schedule, smack them with the fact that the Jayhawks open against South Dakota, and that if they were willing to open against North Dakota State, they’d probably start the season 0-1. Fact.