Oklahoma at Kansas State
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
TV: Fox (Ch. 4)
Radio: KCSP (610 AM)
Line: OU by 14
The lowdown: Oklahoma surprised everyone by losing to Iowa State at home two weeks ago, but the Sooners bounced back with a win over Texas. A victory in Manhattan, where they have won six straight dating back to 1996, would keep their playoff hopes alive. K-State has lost three of its last four, and the Wildcats are looking for a win that could turn their season around.
K-State key to success: Run the ball. The Wildcats placed two running backs (Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon) on the Doak Walker Award preseason watch list, yet neither of them have rushed for 100 yards in a game this year. Lately, they have disappeared from the offense. TCU held Barnes and Silmon to a combined 21 rushing yards on nine attempts last week. Oklahoma has allowed 93.3 rushing yards per game in Big 12 play, so improvement won’t come easy. Still, the Wildcats will need to find ways to get their running backs involved.
OU key to success: Avoid turnovers. Oklahoma is favored by 14 for a reason. As long as the Sooners play fundamentally sound football and avoid major mistakes they should beat the Wildcats. OU quarterback Baker Mayfield has only thrown one interception on 161 passes this season, so K-State will really need to play well on defense to create turnovers.
OU player to watch: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is having a stellar season for the Sooners. The senior defensive end/outside linebacker is one of the Big 12’s best pass rushers, and he proved it last week against Texas by hurrying Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger five times. Combined with five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup, that was enough for him to earn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. He has 10 tackles for loss this season, and will be difficult for K-State’s offensive tackles to block.
Key matchup: K-State offensive line vs. Oklahoma blitz. The Wildcats were overwhelmed by blitzing linebackers and safeties last week against TCU, leaving Alex Delton with no time to throw and K-State running backs with nowhere to run. The Sooners are susceptible against the pass, but Jesse Ertz/Delton can’t take advantage without decent protection. The Wildcats need their offensive line, tight ends and running backs to be much better blockers this week.
Kellis Robinett’s prediction: Oklahoma 35, Kansas State 17. The Wildcats haven’t defeated a top 10 team since 2012, and they don’t have enough firepower to keep pace with Baker Mayfield and the Sooners. Expect Oklahoma’s winning streak in Manhattan to continue.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett