Kansas State enters Week 8 of the college football season 3-2.
The Wildcats have already gone through both bye weeks and now face seven straight games to end the regular season. They will go on the road three more times.
The 2014 and 2013 seasons were the most recent times college football has given teams a pair of bye weeks in the same year. It’s college football’s version of the leap year.
College football runs from just before Labor Day to just after Thanksgiving. There are typically 13 Saturdays between, but not in 2019. That means every team has 14 weeks to play 12 games.
So K-State got the short end of the stick. Or did it? There is good news and bad news here.
Bad news first. In 2014, K-State started 4-1 with wins over Texas Tech and Iowa State on the road. The Wildcats had two bye weeks in that time. Coming off the second bye week, the Wildcats beat Oklahoma 31-30 on the road, just the second time that had happened since 1997.
K-State beat Texas the following week and Oklahoma State the week after that. But four weeks after the second bye, K-State hit trouble. The Wildcats lost 41-20 at TCU and 38-27 at Baylor to finish the regular season.
K-State went 2-3 in its final five games and lost to UCLA in the Alamo Bowl. The Wildcats finished with a 9-4 record, 7-2 in Big 12 play.
Now, the good news. In 2013, the Wildcats played four games before their first bye and two more ahead of their second. They started 2-4 with losses to North Dakota State, Oklahoma State and Baylor.
After the Baylor loss, K-State went into the bye week with eyes on West Virginia, a game it won 35-12. K-State had to play six straight to finish the regular season. The Cats won five of those games and cruised into their bowl, winning again over Michigan.
K-State finished with an 8-5 record, 5-4 in the Big 12.
In 2014, K-State limped into its bowl game with a slew of injuries in the secondary. Coach Chris Klieman said health will be the key in 2019.
“I thought last week was a productive week with a lot of the things that we did, focusing more on us: K-State vs. K-State,” Klieman said. “We were very minimal on TCU. We started that yesterday.”
K-State faces a manageable schedule in its final seven games. Outside of undefeated Oklahoma, its opponents have a 19-16 combined record. Texas and Iowa State are 4-2, and no one else is better through seven weeks.
Klieman said he’s “not a fan” of having two bye weeks so early in the season but that it’s just another obstacle his group must hurdle.
“Football is a rhythm sport,” Klieman said. “You need to be able to play to continue to improve. You can only practice so much. ... I’m glad we had two bye weeks. I would have loved them in Week 4 and Week 10.”