Skylar Thompson is not naïve.
He knows that the Kansas State Wildcats have led a charmed existence through their first two games, and he's also aware that it's not going to last forever.
Especially when the Wildcats go on the road for the first time to take on Mississippi State on Saturday in Starkville, Miss., the heart of SEC country. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Davis Wade Stadium.
"I wouldn't take back anything from the first two games," said Thompson, K-State's junior quarterback, of the 49-14 victory over FCS power Nicholls in the season opener and a 52-0 shutout of Bowling Green last week at friendly Bill Snyder Family Stadium. "I feel like we played great, and we can't control that stuff, obviously.
"But (adversity) is just going to be something new to us if that is going to happen. We'll be fine."
The Wildcats are looking for their first road victory against a Power Five team since beating Miami in 2011 and their first regular-season win against an SEC school since Kentucky in 1982.
But K-State coach Chris Klieman, whose 2-0 start has pushed his personal winning streak to 23 games dating back to 2017 at North Dakota State, welcomes a true test for his team in Week 3.
"This is an exceptional football team and it will be a tough environment, but it's a good measuring stick," Klieman said of facing Mississippi State, which sits just outside the Associated Press Top 25 after beating Louisiana 38-28 and Southern Miss 38-15 to start the season. "We need this game to find out as a coaching staff and as players kind of where we are."
Not that he's complaining about the Wildcats' first two outings.
"Wouldn't it be fun if we didn't face any adversity the whole year?" he said. "Yeah, that would be great. (But) we know it's coming.
"To the upperclassmen, to the captains, to their credit they came out ready to play and jumped on these two teams early and made a statement."
Thompson, as a team captain, has embraced his leadership role and sees part of his job as helping the Wildcats navigate any stormy seas ahead.
"We have a lot of great guys," he said. "All seven of our captains are upperclassmen, are guys that do a great job of leading, and it's going to be important for us to bring everybody together whenever (adversity) may present itself.
"I trust what I've done for this football team and the sacrifice that I've put in to lead this football team. I know when things are going to get challenging and we're going to experience some rough patches that there's going to be some eyes turn to me — if not everybody's eyes — to see how I'm responding to it, how I'm dealing with it."
The rough patches have been few and far between for the Wildcats, who rank 11th nationally in total offense at 547 yards per game — third in rushing (347) — and eighth in total defense, allowing an average of 208 yards.
K-State's rushing attack has been devastating so far, with its committee approach producing touchdowns from five different backs, plus Thompson. Ball State graduate transfer James Gilbert is averaging 109 yards a game on 8.4 yards per carry with three touchdowns, while Jordon Brown and Harry Trotter each have scored twice.
But Mississippi State will present a greater challenge despite losing three NFL draft picks from last year's defense.
"When adversity presents itself, I wonder how we're going to handle that as a football team," Gilbert said. "I feel the coaches are eager to see that, too.
"But we're ready to go. This is going to be the ultimate test for our team to see how good we are."
Mississippi State has allowed 136.5 yards per game on the ground and 387 yards total offense, but leads the SEC in takeaways with seven.
K-State's veteran offensive line has dominated its first two opponents, which in turn has allowed the Wildcats to average 42 minutes of possession time and convert 68% of its third downs. That was not the case last year, when they were manhandled by Mississippi State, 31-10, in Manhattan.
"You've got to focus on execution first and foremost," K-State senior center Adam Holtorf said. "There's going to be adversity at some point, and how do we respond to that? That's going to be the true measure."
K-State's defense also should be tested by a Mississippi State attack that features junior running back Kylin Hill, who ranks second in the nation and first among Power Five schools in rushing with 320 yards on 7.8 yards per carry.
"He's a great player," Klieman said. "It's fun to watch him; hopefully it's not going to be fun to watch him live, but he's just tremendous.
"Just seeing the way he runs, he breaks tackles, he beats you with speed, he's a great jump-cut guy. He does everything, and they're giving him the ball enough to make plays. I know that he's going to be a focal point of what we are doing on defense and try to slow him down."
Quarterback Tommy Stevens, a graduate transfer from Penn State, also has been solid for the Bulldogs, completing 72.5 percent of his passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns without an interception before leaving last week's game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.
"I feel good," Stevens told reporters Tuesday, though there was no official word on whether he would start against K-State. Freshman Garrett Schrader, who replaced Stevens, completed 7 of 11 passes for 71 yards.
Notes: Former K-State receiver Isaiah Zuber is a graduate transfer at Mississippi State, where he is listed as a backup and has caught three passes for 37 yards in the first two games … K-State cornerbacks coach Van Malone was a defensive quality control coach at Mississippi State last year.