1. K-State's season hasn't necessarily gone as well as a lot of people though it might. Injuries have been a big factor, but is there something else that's been hampering this Wildcat team?
Chaos. There's just been a lot of dysfunction everywhere you look. But of K-State's five losses, only one was by more than a touchdown. Against Vanderbilt, the Cats had two major calls go against them -- including a touchdown return called back on replay. They jumped out in front of Oklahoma and couldn't maintain. Texas, of course, was a loss in overtime, so that could easily have been a win. And then there was the West Virginia, which K-State should have been leading 35-0 or 42-0 at halftime, but just couldn't make anything work right on offense in the first half.
2. Who are some players on each side of the ball to keep an eye on that Cyclone fans may not be familiar with?
Aside from Skylar Thompson, who you're probably familiar with by now, the only guy on offense you wouldn't recognize from the last couple of years won't be playing. Dalton Schoen broke his collarbone a couple of weeks ago, and in the first half of the season he was the only reliable deep threat K-State had.
Defensively, you know most of the key players as well, but keep an eye on linebacker Jayd Kirby. We were really hard on Kirby earlier in the season, but it wasn't that we had a problem with HIM so much as being frustrated that a more athletic option wasn't being used. So, naturally, after a huge blowup in which every Jayd Kirby fan on the internet decided enough was enough and came at us with pitchforks, all Kirby has done is play lights-out football. If D.J. Reed is still hurt Saturday, Kirby may be the best player out there on defense.
Denzel Goolsby is also a new starter this year at safety, replacing the nearly irreplaceable Dante Barnett. He's been okay, but considering he signed with K-State as a hybrid offensive player and just started playing safety in the spring, he gets a good grade.
3. Iowa State's 3 man front has been extremely successful this season in shutting down the Big 12's passing offenses, but the Cyclones will probably switch to a 4 man front which has been very successful in shutting down running games. Per usual, Kansas State more closely resembles a Big 10 offense with a heavy dose of rushing. How much success do you anticipate Kansas State having on offense against one of the best defenses in the Big 12?
With a still-green quarterback managing the offense, we really have no idea. Thompson couldn't do much against West Virginia, but destroyed Oklahoma State. Of course, there's a key difference between the West Virginia defense and the Oklahoma State defense.
That said, if the Clones are expecting a steady diet of ground beat, they may be in for a surprise. You might have heard something about Thompson throwing three 40+ yard touchdown passes last week.
4. Farmageddon is one of the best friendly rivalries in college football (maybe the only one?) that nobody talks about. Thus, the game needs a trophy. What does your ideal Farmageddon trophy look like?
A broken-down combine.
5. What's the latest on the K-State coaching situation? Seems like there's a lot of tension between Bill Snyder and the university about who will take over the program following the retirement of the White Wizard.
I could write a book on this, but the truth is that nobody has any idea what's going on, and I am vehement that the statement applies to everyone at Vanier as well. Frankly, we expected Snyder to announce his retirement at his Tuesday morning press conference, and it wasn't just idle speculation. What is apparent is that before he left, John Currie was trying to ensure someone whose name isn't Snyder was the next head coach, and now Gene Taylor has stated unequivocally that whenever Snyder retires the decision will be his.
I have a theory which fits the timeline, but unlike the expectations we had Tuesday, it is WHOLLY unsubstantiated and should be taken with a White Cliff of Dover helping of salt: I would be unsurprised to discover at some point in the future that Taylor nixed a plan to allow Sean Snyder to be interim coach for the bowl game, and therefore Bill Snyder backed off.
6. Regardless of who ends up coaching Kansas State going forward, what's the identity of this program? It's been built on running the ball, defense, and special teams under Snyder, but do you see the university bringing in a coach that wants to move to a Big 12-style offense?
Unless K-State can hire someone who's capable of recruiting blue-chip talent to come to a beautiful and friendly, but terribly bucolic town, they're going to have to rely on the same principles Snyder has: finding undervalued talent, valuing experience and learning over raw ability, and obsessive attention to minute detail. If a coach can convince the administration he's capable of doing that while at the same time changing the team's on-field identity, then sure.
7. Kansas State has obviously struggled historically when Bill Snyder wasn't the head coach. When he retires, do you believe the foundation is in place to maintain the success he had, or do you worry about the program regressing to pre-Snyder levels?
Look, pre-Snyder levels were awful. Pre-Snyder levels were so bad that you literally cannot find a program which went from actually being good to being as bad as Pre-Snyder K-State at any point within the last century.
Take Army; as bad as Army has tended to be at times over the last four decades since falling from the pinnacle, Army's never lost 20 games in a row. Before Snyder, K-State had won three games in four seasons. Army has never done that.
Heck, even Ron Prince wasn't as bad as pre-Snyder, so, you know.
8. Prediction time. Who do ya got?
It's Farmageddon. I have no idea who's going to win, but I know the game's still going to be in doubt with three minutes left even if one team is up by 17 points. Because that's just how we roll.