Bill Snyder improved his legend with a 10-win season last year. Can Snyder's Wildcats prove the doubters -- No. 6 in Big 12 preseason poll -- wrong again? (US Presswire)

Kansas State was outgained by more than 700 yards in 2011 and won eight games by a touchdown or less. That might explain why a 10-3 team that returns all of its important pieces is picked to finish sixth in the Big 12.

Those preseason ranking are something that they ignore in Manhattan. After all, a season ago Bill Snyder's team was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 and ended up second. Will the Wildcats repeat the climb again this year?

Best-case scenario: K-State wins it first three games convincingly and heads to Norman for the Big 12 opener with confidence. The Wildcats keep the game close, as they did last year against Big 12 champ Oklahoma State, but the Sooners win on a field goal late. K-State bounces back with a 35-point win in the Sunflower Showdown over Kansas and wins easily at Iowa State before heading to Morgantown for what turns out to be the battle for second place in the Big 12.

Collin Klein bulldozes his way to four touchdowns on the ground but Geno Smith is too much for K-State's secondary to handle and the Mountaineers pull out a win late. Two weeks later, Snyder puts together a brilliant gameplan to knock off Oklahoma State, winning the time of possession by 10 minutes and keeping OSU's high-powered offense on the sidelines. The 'Cats win two straight tough road games at TCU and Baylor before doing what K-State does best, knocking off Texas for the fifth straight time. K-State makes it back to the Cotton Bowl and plays Arkansas again, this time pulling off the upset, 24-21. 

Worst-case scenario: Bill Snyder teams rarely look past an opponent, especially a big name like Miami (Fla.). But the Hurricanes have 34 freshmen and sophomores listed on their two-deep and K-State doesn't take the young pups seriously in Week Two and loses on a late field goal. The worst news to come out of the game though isn't the loss; it's a season-ending knee injury to Klein.

The Klein-less Wildcats are strong enough defensively to knock off Kansas and then lose another one-possession game in Ames. The Wildcats follow up that loss with a blowout loss at West Virginia. K-State squeaks by Texas Tech before suffering their third blowout loss of the season against Oklahoma State. K-State loses the next three weeks as well, ending the season with four straight losses and a 4-8 record. 

Most-likely scenario: The explanation for K-State's finish in 2011 can pretty much be summed up with Bill Snyder is brilliant. But some fortunate bounces and great special teams play also played a factor. K-State had five non-offensive touchdowns in 2011. The Wildcats are not as fortunate in 2012 and they take a step back -- only by their record. K-State drops games on the road at Oklahoma, West Virginia and TCU and also loses at home to Oklahoma State.

The Wildcats still win several close games, including at Iowa State and at home against Texas. An 8-4 season earns K-State a trip to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, where the 'Cats meet former Big 12 foe Nebraska and win on a last-minute field goal.

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big 12 bloggers C.J. Moore and Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsBig12 on Twitter.