Big 12 Football Countdown: No. 5 Kansas State

USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 Football Countdown: No. 5 Kansas State

Recently, Kansas State has made it their job to make the Big 12 coaches look dumb. The last two years Kansas State has finished above where they were projected and finished well inside the top 25. Kansas State again looks to prove the doubters wrong as they take the field without Collin Klein at the helm, and they can because of a certain intangible. A 73 year old intangible named Bill Snyder. There is so much that could be said about Snyder and his accomplishments at K-State you could fill up a book, so to sum it up, he is a really good coach. Such a good coach that he alone warrants such a high ranking despite losing a substantial amount of talent and a Heisman worthy quarterback. While much of the defense appears to need work, there are still plenty of playmakers on offense that can keep the Wildcats competitive. QB Daniel Sams was impressive in his first real game, K-State will hope that he can reproduce those results in 2013.

2012 Record: 11-2 (8-1)

Returning Starters: 8 (7 OFF, 1 DEF, 0 ST)

Key Losses on Offense: QB Collin Klein (2641 yds passing, 920 yds rushing 39 TD), WR Chris Harper (857 yds. 3 TD)

Key Losses on Defense: LB Arthur Brown, DE Meshak Williams, LB Justin Tuggle, CB Nigel Malone, CB Allen Chapman, DE Adam Davis

Head Coach: Bill Snyder: 170-85-1 (22nd Year)

Strength: Offense

Despite losing a key piece in Collin Klein, K-State still has a pretty intact offense, especially up front as they return four offensive linemen including All Big 12 first team LT Cornelius Lucas. This is good news for QB Daniel Sams, who will receive quality pass protection from a line that ranked 15th in the nation in sacks allowed. All Big 12 first team RB John Hubert (947 yds. 15 TD) will also benefit from working with the group up front as he did a year ago. Losing WR Chris Harper is tough, but his production will be replaced with K-State's next two best receivers Tyler Lockett (687 yds. 4 TD) and Tramaine Thompson (526 yds. 4 TD). TE Zach Trujillo (72 yds.) and WR Curry Sexton (75 yds. 1 TD) should also see more playing time this season.

Weakness/Questions: Defense and Quarterback

K-State's defense boasts an impressive stat, they're No.1..... in fewest starters returning. With just one defensive starter returning, reconstructing the defense could be Bill Snyder's biggest undertaking during his second term. All Big 12 first team S Ty Zimmerman (50 TOT, 5 INT) is the only starter returning on defense. Zimmerman and CB Randall Evans (76 TOT) will make the rebuilding process easier for DC Tom Hayes, at least in the secondary. Rebuilding the defensive front seven will be an even bigger headache for Hayes.

But just when you think rebuilding the defense was going be the hardest thing on Snyder's list, something forces you to think again, Snyder also needs to replace one of his finest quarterbacks in Collin Klein. Replacing a quarterback is one thing, but replacing 68% of you're total yards and 67% of you're TD scored is another thing. QB Daniel Sams (55 yds.) did show some promise in K-State's spring game, throwing for 413 yds. And 4 TD. Perhaps K-State will take to the air more often than the ground for offense this season.

Projected Record: 8-4 (5-4)

Bowl Game: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

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