Kansas State opened up the Big 12 bowl season with a convincing 31-14 win over Michigan on Saturday night in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., to snap the school's five-game bowl losing streak. Here are three initial thoughts from the game:
1. WR Tyler Lockett is a total superstar: Yes, the Big 12 offensive player of the year comes back next year in Baylor QB Bryce Petty. But Lockett will push Petty to defend that title. Lockett shredded Michigan to the tune of 194 all-purpose yards and three touchdown receptions. The way he closed out this season, he should be on the Biletnikoff Award's preseason short list to begin next year.
2. K-State could be a 2014 Big 12 title contender: Baylor brings back a bunch of offensive firepower next year. And Oklahoma has several up-and-coming players on defense. But K-State could be a team to watch in the Big 12 title race in 2014. The Wildcats will return two of the league's best young linemen in DT Travis Britz and OG Cody Whitehair; a quarterback in Jake Waters who got better every week; a versatile offensive playmaker in Daniel Sams; a rush end who can get to the passer in Ryan Mueller; and oh yeah, that Lockett guy. The schedule will be unforgiving, including a home date with possible defending national champion Auburn, followed by road tilts at Oklahoma and Baylor. But after starting 2-4, K-State surged late this year the way Baylor did last year. And the Bears showed what offseason momentum can do for a program the following season.
3. The Big 12 now has a chance at a winning bowl record: To finish with a winning bowl record, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl was a must-win for the Big 12. K-State held up its end as one of the league's two bowl-game favorites. The conference at least has a chance now to deliver a very fine bowl performance, with an upset or two. Without a Buffalo Wild Wings victory, that would have been almost impossible.