Kansas State University

Central Arkansas at K-State preview: keys to the game, prediction

K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz hands off to running back Justin Silmon in Forth Worth as K-State took on the TCU.(December 3, 2016)
K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz hands off to running back Justin Silmon in Forth Worth as K-State took on the TCU.(December 3, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

Central Arkansas at Kansas State

  • When: 6:10 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan
  • Radio: KQAM, 1480-AM; 102.5 FM
  • TV: ESPN3
  • Line: N/A

The Lowdown: Football season is finally here, and K-State would like nothing more than to pick up where it left off in the Texas Bowl. The Wildcats won six of their final seven games last year and enter 2017 with legitimate Big 12 championship hopes. Their first test comes against Central Arkansas, a ranked FCS team that won 10 games last year.

K-State keys to success: Score early, play hard, avoid major mistakes.

CAU keys to success: Make big plays on offense, create turnovers on defense, force K-State to throw.

CAU player to watch: Senior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand threw for 3,051 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, while also rushing for 216 yards and four touchdowns. He seems poised for a big year playing behind an experienced offensive line.

Key Matchup: Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon vs. the Bears’ front seven. Central Arkansas limited opponents to 2.3 yards per rush last season. K-State’s running backs may have to work for their yardage in the opener.

Kellis Robinett’s prediction:

Kansas State 45, Central Arkansas 14. The Bears are one of the nation’s best FCS teams, but the Wildcats should handle them on Saturday. Expect backups to takeover in the fourth quarter.

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett

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