WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — College football is so close you can almost taste it. There is less than a month before teams will take the field for the first time in the 2023 season.

Both Kansas State University and the University of Kansas started preparing for the upcoming season this week, practicing in the sweltering heat and high temperatures.

These practices provide teams the ability to put on pads, run drills and practice situations that will prepare them for the season. It also provides an opportunity for players who find themselves lower on the depth chart to make an impact on the coaches and push for playing time.

Heading into the season, Kansas State was tabbed by the media to finish second in the conference behind Texas, while Kansas is predicted to finish ninth.

Both teams overachieved last season, with Kansas State winning the Big 12 Championship over TCU and the Jayhawks advancing to their first bowl game since 2009.

Kansas returns arguably the best quarterback-running back duo in the nation in Jalon Daniels and Devin Neal. Neal rushed for 1,090 yards and scored nine touchdowns last season, and Daniels threw for 2,104 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Daniels’ stats might look low, but it’s worth noting he missed four games of the season due to injury. In the Liberty Bowl against Arkansas — a three-overtime heartbreaking loss — he threw for 544 yards (a Liberty Bowl record) and five touchdowns.

The expectations are sky-high for the Wildcats coming off a championship season. They return quarterback Will Howard, who took the reins in the middle of the season and never looked back. He appeared in seven games and threw for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns.

K-State lost the services of Deuce Vaughn, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman said during Big 12 Media Days that he’s excited to see who steps up.

“DJ Giddens, I think, is a rising star,” said coach Klieman. “He played sparingly behind Deuce, but when he did, he was very productive and had a couple of really good games.”

“We went out and got Treshaun Ward, who was productive at Florida State, so I am excited to see what a number of these guys can do.”

The season begins first for Kansas, who will face off against Missouri State on Friday, Sept. 1. Kansas State will begin its season on Sept. 2 against Southeast Missouri State.