K-State to open 2021 football season against Stanford in Kickoff Classic

Wildcats chosen for Sept. 4 Kickoff Classic in Arlington, Texas

Arne Green
Salina Journal
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman prepares to lead his team onto the field against West Virginia last Oct. 31 in Morgantown, W.Va. The Wildcats will open the 2021 season against Stanford on Sept. 4 in Arlington, Texas.

Kansas State has landed a marquee matchup for its 2021 season football opener.

The Wildcats will face Stanford on Sept. 4 in the Allstate Kickoff Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, K-State announced Wednesday.

"We were honored when AT&T Stadium contacted us about potentially playing in this prestigious game," K-State athletics director Gene Taylor said in a statement. "The idea of taking a home game away from Manhattan and Bill Snyder Family Stadium is a big decision, and as a staff and university, we feel that it is an opportunity that we could not pass up.

"Our student-athletes will have the opportunity to play in one of the worlds' finest venues, and Kansas State University and our football program will be in the national spotlight. Our fans have always enjoyed traveling to Arlington, and of course the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is one of our top markets for our out-of-state graduates, and the 7,000-plus alums in the area will have the opportunity to support our team in person."

The game will be the 12th to kick off the college season, but the first as the Allstate Kickoff Classic. It will be K-State's second appearance in the stadium and its first since the 2012 Cotton Bowl.

The Wildcats also played in the 1997 and 2001 Cotton Bowl games in Dallas.

“Playing a quality opponent such as Stanford in one of the world’s top sporting venues is a chance for us to showcase our program to recruits all over the country,” K-State coach Chris Klieman said. “I know our players are excited for the challenge and the opportunity that it presents.”

The Kickoff Classic will be the first of three nonconference games for the Wildcats, who also will play host to Southern Illinois on Sept. 11 and Nevada on Sept. 18 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

K-State President Richard Myers endorsed the decision to play the opener in Arlington.

“We are excited to be able to play a high-profile football game in one of our top recruiting markets,” he said. “K-State has nearly 15,000 alumni and friends in Texas, with half of those in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Our fans are familiar with the area and will, no doubt, turn out to support the Wildcats.”

Past participants in the kickoff games in AT&T Stadium include perennial national powers Alabama, Michigan, Auburn, Wisconsin, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon and Florida, among others. 

"Given all that has happened in 2020, there can be no question that in 2021 this game will have special significance as together we bring back the great fans, pageantry, history and traditions of college football as we’ve always known it,” said Stephen Jones, chief operating officer of the Dallas Cowboys.

K-State will try to bounce back in 2021 after going 4-6 this past season.