Kansas State fell to No. 13 in the latest playoff rankings, putting the Wildcats seemingly out of reach for a top-four finish. But they are still in contention for a Big 12 championship and a prestigious bowl game.
Their path to a conference title is simple. Win out, and K-State will at the least share a trophy with TCU.
Te bowl scenarios depend greatly on what happens in the season’s final weeks. Let’s examine some of the bowl possibilities.
This week, most experts project K-State to play in the Alamo Bowl. ESPN and Sports Illustrated both predict K-State vs. UCLA in San Antonio, while CBS Sports thinks K-State will face Arizona in central Texas. Meanwhile, Fox Sports projects K-State to the Russell Athletic Bowl, where it will play Notre Dame.
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Each of those scenarios seems positive for K-State fans. The Big 12 shifted its bowl order during the offseason, and the Alamo Bowl is the conference’s top tie-in outside of the playoff (Rose and Sugar Bowls this year) and the selection committee bowls (Cotton, Orange, Fiesta and Peach this year). After that, the bowl order goes Russell Athletic, Texas, Liberty, Cactus and Armed Forces.
The most likely postseason destinations for the Wildcats are the Cotton, Alamo, Russell Athletic and Texas bowls.
For what it’s worth, the Russell Athletic Bowl and Alamo Bowl have sent the most representatives to K-State games this season.
If K-State wins its final three games (at West Virginia, vs. Kansas and at Baylor) the Cotton Bowl becomes a realistic destination, especially if TCU represents the Big 12 in the playoff.
If K-State wins two of its final three games, it is more likely looking at trips to the Alamo Bowl or the Russell Athletics Bowl. It’s difficult to project which one, though, without first knowing how many Big 12 teams will represent the conference in the playoff/selection committee bowls. The possibility of both Baylor and TCU reaching the playoff could boost the Wildcats one spot in the pecking order. Both teams missing out could have the opposite impact.
The Texas Bowl could come into play if K-State loses two or more of its final games. The Wildcats are currently two games up on everyone in the conference standings other than Baylor and TCU.