Kansas State understands all too well how it feels to be Iowa State right now.
It was just last year when the Wildcats lost their home opener to FCS foe North Dakota State, a loss that sent K-State careening off the cliff for much of the first half of the season.
Iowa State, hoping to put last Saturday’s 34-14 drubbing by the Bison behind it quickly, now turns its attention to K-State in what will be the earliest conference game for the Wildcats since 1996’s inaugural Big 12 game.
For the 20th-ranked Wildcats, Saturday’s game in Ames — starting at 11 a.m. on Fox Sports 1 — is business as usual, or at least as much as it can be playing a Big 12 game just two weeks into the season.
“I can’t tell you there’s any significant difference, truly,” K-State head coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday. “I mean, obviously when you play one as early as we are, the end result is that you’re either going to be in first or you’re going to be in last. It carries its own weight in that respect. I don’t know that we have any difference at all in terms of our preparation.”
Perhaps so, but there’s no doubt Snyder would prefer to play conference games a little further down the schedule than the second week of September.
“Normally you’d prefer for them to start later — that would be my feeling,” he said. “Ask me about 4 in the afternoon on Saturday and I might have a better answer.
“You’d like to have the opportunity in earlier ballgames to have a chance to get your No. 2s on the field to experience gameday in a competitive manner before you get into conference play.”
K-State (1-0) won’t play its next Big 12 game until Oct. 4 when it hosts Texas Tech, a game that might seem like an eternity away considering the Wildcats’ date with No. 5 Auburn on Sept. 18 looms large, followed by its final nonconference tilt against UTEP on Sept. 27.
Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads likes having an early conference game, especially coming off a loss to start the season.
“It gets your attention, gets your focus and keeps your kids ready to go, ready for the next game,” he said during Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. “For us, coming off a disappointing loss, I think it’s really good for our focus and concentration. I’m not against it at all.”
Playing K-State is also added motivation for Iowa State (0-1), which hasn’t beaten the Wildcats since 2007.
“There isn’t anyone in these two rooms when we get together that has ever beaten Kansas State as an Iowa State personnel member and that has our attention too,” Rhoads said. “That’s something we’d like to achieve and to do it against them when they’re ranked in the Top 20 in the country would be even better.”
Lockett expected to play Saturday
Snyder said Tuesday that he expects Tyler Lockett to get on the field more against Iowa State after sitting out the final three quarters against Stephen F. Austin. Lockett, whose only reception was a 9-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, had reportedly been dealing with a nagging hamstring issue.
Offensive lineman Cody Whitehair, who limped off the field with an ankle injury last Saturday, is also expected back this weekend.
Mangino’s Big 12 tour
Former K-State assistant Mark Mangino is in his first season as Iowa State’s offensive coordinator — marking his fourth school in the Big 12 after stops at Oklahoma as an assistant and as head coach at Kansas.
This is Mangino’s first major coaching job since being fired from KU in 2009 amid allegations of inappropriate treatment of players. He was an assistant at Youngstown State in 2013 under former Wildcat Eric Wofford.
Snyder said Tuesday there is always a concern when facing someone like Mangino, who knows all the ins and outs of a program and system he was apart of for eight seasons (1991-98).
“Mark having been involved with our offense during his tenure here, you would have some concerns about what he could convey to their defensive coaches in regards to our offense,” Snyder said.
Though the Cyclones struggled against North Dakota State, Snyder said he sees a bit of everything from Mangino’s previous stops in what Iowa State tries to do offensively.
“There’s a mixture there of Iowa State previously and the University of Kansas and things we did here at Kansas State,” he said. “It’s all there. It’s pretty broad-based. Its not stuff we haven’t seen. Some of it is add-on as well, going back to University of Kansas tape and his stop at Oklahoma.”