Nonconference preview: Kansas State

Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.

Next up: Kansas State.

North Dakota State, Aug. 30

  • Coach: Craig Bohl, 11th year (89-32)

  • 2012 record: 14-1 (7-1, Missouri Valley)

  • Offensive headliner: The Bison return two 1,000-yard rushers from their 2012 national championship team. Sam Ojuri and John Crockett combined for 2,085 yards last season.

  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Grant Olson returns after making 148 tackles last season, including 11.5 for loss. He recovered two fumbles as well. That total would have ranked fourth in FBS.

  • The skinny: Very dangerous game for Kansas State here. The Wildcats have struggled against FCS competition in season openers before, and NDSU is 6-3 all-time against FBS competition, including wins over Kansas, Minnesota (twice) and Colorado State. K-State should win, but if it plays poorly, or even average, this is a loss. Considering the roster turnover at K-State, this should be even more worrisome. Back in 2011, K-State beat a 7-5 Eastern Kentucky FCS team, 10-7. Similar situation. Worse team.

Louisiana-Lafayette, Sept. 7

  • Coach: Mark Hudspeth (18-8), third year

  • 2012 record: 9-4, 6-2, Sun Belt

  • Returning starters: seven offense, six defense

  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Terrance Broadway has a reputation as a playmaker and threw for 2,842 yards with 17 scores and nine interceptions last season. He also rushed for 769 yards and nine touchdowns.

  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Justin Anderson made 105 tackles last season, 30 more than any other Ragin' Cajun. That included 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

  • The skinny: The Cajuns are a fun team to watch and have won nine games and a bowl in each of the past two seasons. Lafayette is another team fully capable of beating K-State, who the Wildcats won't get much credit for beating. Seems like a lose-lose situation there.

Massachusetts, Sept. 14

  • Coach: Charley Molnar (1-11), second year

  • 2012 record: 1-11, 0-8 MAC

  • Returning starters: four offense, five defense

  • Offensive headliner: Tight end and All-Name teamer Rob Blanchflower caught 43 passes for 464 yards and two touchdowns and is UMass' top returning receiver.

  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker and fellow All-Name teamer Kassan Messiah is the team's leading returning tackler after making 65 tackles in nine games as a freshman in 2012.

  • The skinny: UMass was a strong FCS program at one point, but saw the program take a downturn and had a rough transition to the FBS game a year ago as a member of the MAC.

Chances of going 3-0: 56 percent

Wrapping up: Bill Snyder finally gets his wish as tougher schedules from the past get fazed out. There's no Miami on this schedule. There's not a single team from a major conference and all three games are at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. There's not a name team on the schedule, but for a team that's rebuilding like Kansas State, facing experienced teams who know how to win like Louisiana and North Dakota State could prove tougher than casual fans glancing at a schedule realize.