Head-to-Head: K-State vs. UMass


Guest columnist: Nick Canelas, sports editor, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Sean: The K-State Wildcats are sure to easily dispatch of the UMass Minutemen on Saturday. First off, the Minutemen have to come to Manhattan and feel what 50,000 people in Bill Snyder Family Stadium feels like. I doubt that UMass has too much experience with a crowd like that, much less winning in one. Secondly, the disparity in talent between the Wildcats and Minutemen is almost laughable. UMass dropped a game to Maine last week, an FCS team that only won five games a year ago.

Nick: You ought to look a little more carefully. Just two weeks ago UMass played in front of over 75,000 at Camp Randall Stadium, and was an uncalled timeout away from trailing then No. 23 Wisconsin by seven points at halftime. Seven points to a team that is much better than a Kansas State team that lost to an FCS team – albeit a relatively good one – as well. If that tells me anything, it’s that the Wildcats clearly are susceptible to playing down to inferior competition which UMass certainly is. If the Minutemen had played on Saturday anywhere close to the level they did in the first half against Wisconsin, then the Maine game would’ve been a blowout. Expect they are a much hungrier team to take the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium this Saturday.

Sean: UMass’ game against Wisconsin was in Week 1. Teams are always susceptible to slow starts and K-State figured that out the hard way. But the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns also learned the hard way what an angry Wildcats team looks like in their 48-27 blowout loss. There’s no way the Minutemen defense can handle the two-quarterback system of Jake Waters and Daniel Sams, both of whom by the way would probably win the MAC, the conference UMass is in, Offensive Player of the Year by a landslide.

Nick: Name the last two-quarterback system that legitimately won anything. It might take a little while to think of one. Besides, UMass is a much better team against the pass than it is against the run, and UMass running back Stacey Bedell has the potential for a breakout game in just his third career start, especially against what appears to be a suspect run defense. And let’s not get too carried away with the idea that the Wildcats came out “angry.” Sure, they steamrolled Louisiana, but they suffered from the same complacency issues that was ultimately their downfall against North Dakota State. Being outscored 24-7 after taking an early lead isn’t something that should be ignored.

Sean: Avoiding complacency is exactly what Snyder said the Wildcats are focusing on this week, and you have to think that it’s because the Wildcats learned their lesson about complacency in Week 1. As for the K-State defense, while the unit is still gelling after losing nine starters from last year, there was plenty of obvious progress made by the defense in Week 2. And in Week 3, you can only think that safety Ty Zimmerman and company will continue to develop. Oh, and Notre Dame used two quarterbacks last year and they went undefeated in the regular season. Virginia Tech also did pretty well with Sean Glennon and Marcus Vick sharing time as signal-caller.

Nick: If that’s your defense, then I could argue that UMass has two quarterbacks that have actually taken fairly equal snaps this season. Listen, this is a UMass team that has no business winning on Saturday. However, there’s too many circumstances that make the Minutemen primed for an upset against a team like Kansas State. I think the complacency and immaturity is a bigger issue than you’re making it out to be, and the Wildcats are obviously going through plenty of turnovers. UMass has some young talent that could very well break out on Saturday if given the opportunity. This game has the potential to be more interesting than you’re giving it credit to be.

Sean: Any game could be more interesting than anticipated, but you have to look at the facts. UMass only won one game last year, and there’s a strong movement saying the Minutemen shouldn’t even be in the FBS and instead should downgrade to FCS. A team where fans think that their team doesn’t belong with the elite won’t be able to compete against the 2012 Big 12 champions.

Nick: The 2012 Big 12 champs had Collin Klein and other established veterans leading their team to that mark. This team has shown to be a significant downgrade just two games in against inferior competition. Both teams are significantly different than last season so comparing last season’s statistics are completely irrelevant. UMass is just as capable of pulling the upset as North Dakota State was. They have a hungry A.J. Doyle making his first start of the season and a team that feels downright embarrassed after losing to Maine. I’d be shocked if this team didn’t come out with some kind of energy, and as long as the Minutemen keep it relatively close there’s evidence that the Wildcats could very well falter if they get too comfortable come fourth quarter.