All Aboard the Kennesaw State Hype Train

Kylor Neale - Aug 15, 2018

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In 2018, it’s safe to say Kennesaw State is no longer considered the Cinderella team of the FCS. Coming into this season KSU has been ranked in the top 5 of almost every FCS poll in the nation. STATS has them at #5, the Coaches Poll at #5, while Hero Sport and FCS Fans Nation both have the Owls at #3.

The most impressive thing about this team is, 4 years ago they didn’t even play a single game of football. I’m not just talking about playing an FCS game but literally not a single college football game. Let that sink in for a moment. Now consider what this program did in 2017. Kennesaw State started building a football program in 2009 and officially had their first game in the 2015. They started 3-0 that year, outscoring their opponents 132-35. In Kennesaw State’s short-lived football history, they have never seen a losing season. Going from 6-5 the first year, to 8-3 in 2016, and an outstanding 12-2 year this past season.  In the 2017 season, they lost their first game to top 20 Samford 23-28. After that game they went on to win 10 straight games which clinched the Big South conference.

In KSU’s first game in the playoffs they were given a redemption matchup against local rival and Top 15 ranked Samford. This game proved Kennesaw State was the real deal as they defeated Samford 28-17. Their rushing game proved to be the dominate factor as it was all season (#1 rushing team in the nation), rushing for 329 yards in their first playoff game in program history. At this moment the Kennesaw State “Cinderella Story” started to flourish throughout the whole FCS.

More fans outside of KSU’s student and alumni started flooding our FCS Fans page rooting for Kennesaw state and their Social Media celebrity “Plank” over their game two opponent. A FCS Powerhouse and kings of the south Jacksonville State was surely going to end Kennesaw State’s amazing story. Well at least that’s what most people thought… The 3 seed came in “Cocky” going 10-0 against the FCS this season and dominating the OVC by going undefeated for a 4th straight year. This time it was the Kennesaw State’s Defense that looked to be the dominating factor. Holding JSU to under 100 yards in each passing and rushing category and winning 17-7. Even after falling to the Owls, Jacksonville State’s own fans couldn’t help but root for Kennesaw State and the story they were writing.

The next game was against one of the FCS’s best teams of the decade, Sam Houston State. Sam Houston State’s resume this decade: Second most winning program, T- Second most Championship Game appearances, Second most semifinal appearance, and second most playoff appearances. Since the 2011 season SHSU has gone 14-6 in the playoffs and secured a Semifinal game in 5 of the last 7 seasons. This was the ultimate test for a new program building momentum, and a much tougher opponent than Jacksonville State. Kennesaw State seemed confident as they jumped out to a 7-0 lead. It was a great game that showcased a lot of potential for KSU. But this time things didn’t fair too well for Kennesaw. The 2 time Walter Payton Award winner Jeremiah Briscoe was just too much for KSU, as he threw for 3 touchdowns against KSU’s stout defense. The game ended 34-27, ending the Kennesaw State 2017 Cinderella Story.

Losing in the quarters seemed to only build steam and hype coming into the 2018 season. They return a star-studded class lead by Senior QB Chandler Burks, All American OL Junior CJ Collings and 2017 Jerry Rice freshman of the year winner LB Bryson Armstrong. KSU was one of only two teams in the country with 3 preseason first team All Americans on Hero Sports All American list. They have the talent, depth and increasing fan base to make a statement this year         

Is the hype for real? Can Kennesaw State improve from an outstanding 12-2 season? Will Kennesaw be able to win the title? Or will this be a year where the hype train gets stopped in its tracks? I personally have no clue and can only make assumptions. The only thing I do know is that I have purchased 2 tickets and ranked them as high as 4 in my Preseason Poll. I expect them to win the Big South and make it to quarters again.

Kylor Neale’s Preseason Top 10

  1. North Dakota State
  2. James Madison
  3. South Dakota State
  4. Kennesaw State
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Sam Houston State
  7. Samford
  8. Eastern Washington
  9. Jacksonville State
  10. Delaware

The KSU Hype train leaves on 8/30 at 7pm EST as they face FBS Foe Georgia State. I for one am excited to see this young program continue to improve and I’ll end this with a Go Plank, and Hooty Hoo!