It no longer looks like the most difficult game on the schedule, but Kansas State’s upcoming matchup with Oklahoma State will be a challenge for both teams.
By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
The Wildcats are trying to get back above .500 following a deflating loss at Texas. The No. 20 Cowboys are hoping to prove their surprising loss at West Virginia was a fluke.
Both teams think they are better than their record indicates. The winner of Saturday’s game at Boone Pickens Stadium will strengthen their argument. The loser will have a lot to prove.
Here is a look at that and everything else you need to know about the week ahead:
K-State snapped a three-game losing streak to Oklahoma State with a 44-30 victory, which most will remember for Collin Klein suffering a head injury and the Cowboys using a new quarterback every quarter, last season. But the last three games between Bill Snyder and Mike Gundy have been close. Oklahoma State edged K-State 24-14 in 2010. The Cowboys won an absolute thriller 52-45 in 2011. Then K-State won last season. This weekend’s game has the makings of another entertaining affair. It will an old Big 12 Game of the Week feel to it, with kickoff scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Bob Wischusen and Rod Gilmore will be on the call.
Oklahoma State looked like the class of the Big 12 until Saturday. No one is sure what to think of the Cowboys following their loss to West Virginia, which was coming off a 37-0 loss to Maryland. J.W. Walsh completed just 20 of 47 passes and tossed two interceptions. Jeremy Smith managed a single yard on 15 carries. The offense and defense both struggled in the second half. It was a surprising loss that raises the following question: Is Oklahoma State overrated? This game could provide an answer.
It should be an interesting matchup. Oklahoma State is a different team without the feature running backs (Kendall Hunter, Joseph Randle) it has used in the past. Walsh is the team’s leading rusher, and that puts more pressure on their passing game. It also makes them difficult to defend. Defenses can’t focus on just a running back anymore.
The offense, overall, isn’t as explosive as it has been in recent years. It ranks 36th in total offense. But it is stronger, overall, on defense, ranking 49th.
Depth Chart Update
If you saw last week’s depth chart there is no need to look at this week’s depth chart. They are the same.
Anyone who has watched K-State play under Snyder knows how important time of possession is to the Wildcats. But they haven’t been able to control the clock the way they usually do so far this season.
Through four games they are actually losing the possession battle, holding the ball for 29 minutes, 22 seconds of each game. That, naturally, has upset Snyder.
Well, this could be an ideal time for K-State to win the possession battle. Oklahoma State and its struggling running game is holding the ball for barely 25 minutes a game. It ranks 120th nationally in time of possession.
Here’s guessing Snyder will try to keep the ball on the ground and take advantage of that on Saturday.
– One of the main focuses for Kansas State during its bye week? Fixing the defensive problems that plagued it against Texas.
– Oklahoma State’s kicking game was not good against West Virginia. The Cowboys missed two field goals and booted two short punts that cost them. Mike Gundy said Sunday that his team’s punting game is “poor.”
– Mike Gundy always pushes hard for a soft nonconference schedule. This season, it hasn’t done Oklahoma State any favors.