In a year that defines uncertainty, Kansas State coach Chris Klieman finds himself in a strange situation, even by today’s standards.
Kansas State intends to head to Ames, Iowa, on Saturday to face No. 17 Iowa State as both teams hold on to hope of appearing in the Big 12 title game. But Klieman and the Wildcats are not sure they will have enough players to make the trip.
“We don’t have enough (healthy) guys to shift around,” Klieman said. “That’s probably our issue. We’re (practicing) with the guys that we have, just knocking on wood that we can get through Wednesday’s tests, and Friday’s tests.
“We’re not the only ones in the country dealing with this. We’re just down so many guys in certain spots that we can’t even move people. So I’m just knocking on wood that we get good results the rest of this week.”
Kansas State (4-3, 4-2 Big 12) has lost its last two games since reaching No. 16 in the polls. They lost 37-10 at West Virginia before falling 20-18 against No. 14 Oklahoma State at home prior to last weekend’s bye.
A win keeps K-State’s title hopes very much alive. The Wildcats would hold the tiebreaker over the Cyclones and Oklahoma, with whom they are currently tied for third place. They still have to play Texas, which also has two conference losses.
A loss to the Cyclones, however, puts a serious dent in the Wildcats’ chances.
Iowa State (5-2, 5-1) controls its own destiny. The Cyclones have just one league loss, to Oklahoma State, and even a setback Saturday would still have them tied for the second spot.
The Cyclones don’t have the COVID-19 issues that K-State does.
“Right now we’re 100 percent healthy,” coach Matt Campbell said. “Is it a concern (that the game won’t be played)? Absolutely. It’s not just now. It’s literally been this way for the whole season.”
The Cyclones have their eyes set on the Big 12 title game, but Campbell won’t allow himself to look past the Wildcats.
“For me, the starting point is that attitude, the effort, the intensity that continues to reside as a fabric of what makes Kansas State such a great football program,” Campbell said. “Then you supply that with some really good football players, on offense and defense and the success they’ve had on special teams. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a K-State team. I’m really impressed with this team.”
Iowa State is third in the Big 12 in scoring offense and fourth in scoring defense and has the Wildcats’ full attention.
“That’s a veteran club that’s playing at a really high level,” he said. “They have talent on both offense and defense. They play really well at home. We have to come up with a good game plan and play error-free, disciplined football.”
–Field Level Media