ANALYSIS: Who will be K-State’s one nonconference foe for the 2020 football season?

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A close up of then-senior offensive Lineman Nick Kaltmayer's helmet during warm-ups before the game against Baylor. The Wildcats lost 31-12. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group)

After the Big 12 Conference announced their 10 game scheduling model that included nine conference games and one non-conference game, Kansas State was left with a decision for the 2020 season — who would be their one non-conference opponent?

K-State originally had three straight home nonconference games to kick off the 2020 season, now that number has dwindled to zero due to conference decisions to postpone seasons amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vanderbilt was the first team knocked off the schedule as the Southeastern Conference announced on July 30 that the conference would eliminate all nonconference games during the 2020 season, and instead play 10 conference games. That knocked the planned Sept. 19 clash between the Commodores and the Wildcats in Manhattan is off the table.

Then went the final two nonconference opponents on K-State’s schedule — Buffalo and North Dakota.

North Dakota went first as the Missouri Valley Football Conference announced on Friday that the league would not be conducting a season in the fall, but instead are planning to play in the spring. UND and K-State were set to do battle on Sept. 12 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Then came the big announcement on Aug. 8 as the Mid-American Conference became the first conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision to postpone all fall sports. This decision put the nail in the coffin for K-State’s original nonconference schedule, as the season opener against Buffalo is now off the table as well.

With the college football season set to begin at its earliest on Aug. 29 for “week zero” games, K-State must scramble to find one nonconference opponent willing to travel to Manhattan before conference play begins in mid to late September.

Who is left to play though? Plenty of conferences at the FBS level are still planning to have fall seasons at the moment, but with exceptions.

Out of the Power 5 conferences, the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced their plans to not hold nonconference games during the 2020 season. The Atlantic Coast Conference, similar to the Big 12, will allow for one nonconference game, but it must be played in the home state of the ACC team.

The Big 12 will only allow a nonconference game to be played at the home of the Big 12 team, meaning all Power 5 schools are out of the equation when it comes to a nonconference game opponents.

As far as the group of five conferences go, all conferences except for the MAC would be a possibility for sending an opponent to play in Manhattan this fall. This includes the American Athletic Conference, the Sun Belt and Conference USA who have already decided to play eight regular-season games and allow for up to four nonconference games during the 2020 season.

The Mountain West Conference is also a part of the group of five conferences, but has a different plan than the others. Their arrangement is for eight conference games and just two nonconference games in the 2020 season.

Also, don’t forget about the independents in the FBS. These teams aren’t aligned with any of the major conferences in college football and are desperately looking for teams to play in the 2020 season. These teams include Army, Brigham Young University, Liberty, New Mexico State and the University of Massachusetts.

Notre Dame and Connecticut are also normally in the independents, but Notre Dame recently made the switch to the ACC for the 2020 season and Connecticut became the first FBS school to cancel its 2020 football season on Wednesday.

That leaves 52 total teams in the FBS that could possibly play K-State as a non-conference opponent for the 2020 season.

If an FBS opponent cannot be found for the season though, the Wildcats can always look to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) for an opponent, these options are quickly dwindling though as seen with what happened to North Dakota.

As it stands at the time of publication, nine out of the 14 FCS conferences have already decided to postpone their fall football seasons in hope of salvaging a spring season. The conferences remaining include the Big South, Ohio Valley, Southland, Southern and the independents.

Once a nonconference opponent is chosen by K-State, it will just be a matter of waiting for the Big 12 to release the full conference schedule to see just what K-State’s 2020 football season will look like.

For now, K-State still has plenty of options to choose from out-of-conference, but as the season inches closer it is looking like more conferences and teams are beginning to get cold feet when looking at the option of playing football during a raging pandemic.

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Cameron Bradley
Hey! I’m Cameron Bradley and I am the sports editor for the Collegian! I am a junior from Wichita, Kansas, and I am majoring in journalism. When I’m not working for the Collegian, I’m creating content and putting on broadcasts with K-StateHD.TV. I am also currently a member of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. I love sports, spending time with friends, family and doing everything that I do for the glory of God!