Weekly Rankings: Home games by difficulty
KSO will pick a category every week and come up with rankings of that specific category. After a bit of a recruiting kick, we continue with more thoughts on the upcoming season and which home games will prove the most difficult for Kansas State.
While Steve Sarkisian has undoubtedly already made them a more talented club than even before, the same questions will remain when it comes to Texas. That is about culture and the country club mindset that has plagued them for years and not enabled them to be tough enough.
That was prevalent last year. It was distraction after distraction still in Austin, and some of that was on the coaching staff and some of it was on the players. Players were filming rants from the staff on the bus and then there was the "Pole Assassin" fiasco, too.
With that being said, my answer being the Longhorns is a bit two-fold. They're going to be improved, as it is difficult to repeat 5-7 and falling to Kansas again and they'll likely have better quarterback play.
The other side is that it is a bit of an answer by default. Pardon me for not buying into Oklahoma State after their losses from a year ago, Missouri has question marks at quarterback and Texas Tech will be in year one in a new system.
And let's be honest, Kansas State hasn't defeated Texas since 2016.
2. OKLAHOMA STATE
Another team that Chris Klieman has yet to topple is Oklahoma State. If I felt good about the Cowboys in 2022, I might have Mike Gundy and company ahead of Texas for the topic. But I just have concerns about the group in Stillwater.
They'll stay ahead of the Red Raiders and Tigers just because of having some continuity and recent success that those two programs haven't experienced in quite a while. But that's about it.
Spencer Sanders brings a wealth of experience, but he isn't without flaws. However, they typically find enough on that side of the ball. But their defense lost coordinator Jim Knowles and some integral parts that have played large roles.
They seem to have used the transfer portal the least to enforce and supplement their roster as well.
3. TEXAS TECH
I am a fan of the direction that new head coach Joey McGuire has taken to lead Texas Tech after the prior two dismissals of Kliff Kingsbury and Matt Wells. Simply put, it has been a floundering program in Lubbock.
He has provided a spark, recruited with vigor and re-established their place on the recruiting scene in Texas. And hiring Zach Kittley from Western Kentucky as the offensive coordinator was also a brilliant move.
It won't happen overnight. It never does. But the Red Raiders made a bowl game last year and quarterback Donovan Smith really flashed at the end of the season.
I'm pretty down on Missouri based on what I have heard from folks that have intel on what is transpiring in Columbia. Perhaps Eliah Drinkwitz will surprise them and prove them wrong, but some folks inside aren't exactly glowing about it.
On the surface, I expected to hear much more of a ringing endorsement, especially since they have recruited much better than they were in the several years prior to Drinkwitz's arrival.
My sharpest complaint would be that they are placing a lot of faith in a quarterback, Jack Abraham, that I wouldn't want to do if I were them. That's likely who K-State faces too since it is much too early in the year for him to receive the hook.
In most years, I would have Kansas below all of the non-conference foes or at least all but the FCS club. That's not the case this year. I'm not going to completely jump the shark and project five wins like some have for some reason, but they should pose more of a threat than South Dakota or Tulane.
Devin Neal is very talented and Jalon Daniels provided some promising glimpses a season ago. The most radical change has been that Lance Leipold at least has them more prepared week in and week out, and that was not seen under David Beaty or Les Miles.
He's more of a football guy.
Willie Fritz is often in the discussion for Power Five openings, and it is because he inherited a pretty downtrodden program and has had them respectable for an extended period of time.
With that being said, they've accomplished nothing special with him at the helm. And after nearly upsetting Oklahoma last year, they finished the season 2-10. The only teams they defeated were USF and Morgan State.
If someone wanted to argue and elevate South Dakota over them, I wouldn't grapple with them too much.
Talk K-State football and basketball in the largest, most active K-State message board community anywhere, The Foundation.
7. SOUTH DAKOTA
It was by default that I chose to place South Dakota as the easiest team on the Wildcats' schedule. After all, they are at the lower rung of the Division I level and the game is played in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
They did go 7-5 a season ago and dropped their game versus KU, 17-14.