Kansas State will enter the football season as a ranked team for the first time since 2014.
The Wildcats debuted at No. 20 in the Associated Press preseason poll Monday. They are ranked No. 20 in the USA Today coaches poll.
Preseason rankings are rare in Manhattan. This is only the third time since 2004 that K-State has earned a spot in the inaugural AP top 25.
K-State finished last season on a hot streak, winning six of its last seven games to end the year with a 9-4 record. The Wildcats return eight starters on offense, including senior quarterback Jesse Ertz, and several playmakers on defense. Many think they are capable of contending with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State for a Big 12 championship.
The AP preseason poll includes five teams from the Big 12. Oklahoma led the way at No. 7, Oklahoma State was close behind at No. 10, K-State checked in at No. 20, West Virginia was voted No. 22 and Texas rounded out the group at No. 23.
Alabama was an overwhelming choice for No. 1. The Crimson Tide secured 52 first-place votes from the 59 media members that voted in the poll. Ohio State checked in at No. 2 with three first-place votes. Florida State was third with four first-place votes. Southern California and defending national champion Clemson rounded out the top five.
This is the first time K-State has been ranked in the AP poll since early 2015, following a 9-4 campaign that ended with a loss to UCLA in the Alamo Bowl. K-State begins the upcoming season Sept. 2 against Central Arkansas.