The season continues to roll forward with an undefeated K-State and now the schedule gets into teams that will demand absolute excellence for a win. The next two games for the Wildcats will be their hardest, playing an Oklahoma team that is coming off its first lost of the season and then traveling to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State who will most likely still be undefeated and in the top 5. The throttling of Kansas came as no surprise to anyone who has watched K-State play this season and enabled Bill Snyder to continue to use a basic offense, which might be extremely beneficial on Saturday. Kansas State has to continue imposing their style of football on teams to remain unbeaten and that’s a major part of getting another Wildcat victory. Continue reading to see what else needs to take place.
Offense – What K-State does offensively isn’t magic. It doesn’t require the best athletes, it doesn’t provide highlight after highlight, it doesn’t even require more than about 5 plays, but it works and works well. The Sooners bring the nations 27th ranked rushing defense into Bill Snyder Family Stadium but when a team is clicking like the Wildcats are, that’s easy to overcome. Colin Klein and John Hubert are going to be asked to carry the majority of the snaps again for sure but I think the key to a victory on Saturday is going to be what new twists Bill Snyder adds to the play calling. Up to this point in the season, the Wildcats haven’t needed to open things up hardly at all which could be advantageous. Oklahoma could watch every one of K-State’s 7 victories and really not see all that much. The Wildcat’s wildcat formation, which is usually run by Angelo Pease, has been successful each time it’s been put to use. And don’t forget that Pease played a little QB in his time as well so I wouldn’t be shocked to see some sort of passing play from him. There’s also the small adjustments in the zone read that have peeked out in other games that could be used more. My personal favorite is the wrinkle that allows Klein to keep, give, or hit the wide out on the line of scrimmage. That’s only been used a few times this season but it works well by forcing the corners into the decision of either leaving their man to attack Klein as he’s getting to the edge or watch him run as they keep coverage. It’s going to be important to get a little more diverse, but whatever plays are called, the key is to continue to do what Kansas State has done all season: smash the run game down the field, use passing sparingly and efficiently, and control how often OU gets to put it’s own offense in the game.
Defense – Oklahoma currently has the 4th best offense in the nation. Up until last week, they looked deadly in how they handle the ball and put points on the board. But the Texas tech game became an unexpected blueprint for limiting OU’s play making and after watching the game replay, I feel pretty confident about how K-State’s defense is going to fare. I assumed Tech went after OU QB Landry Jones hard with blitzes and schemes that forced him into bad plays but what really took place was straight out of the Wildcat’s season. Tech played sound zone assignments, used mostly a four-man rush, and capitalized on turnovers. Sound familiar? It should. As well as Tech’s defense was against OU, there’s no doubt K-State has the better unit. There are sure to be some well timed stunts, but Kansas State’s defense (just like the offense) simply needs to do what they have done all year long to come away with another big win. The Wildcats have faced the most athletic quarterback they’ll see in Robert Griffin III and came out on top. They’ve also already taken care of the most accurate and pass happy quarterback they’ll see in Seth Doege last weekend. Jones shouldn’t scare the good guys at all. He hasn’t lived up to his pre-season hype anyways and will give opportunities for the defense to get some turnovers as long as they stay in position and that’s what it’s all about. K-State’s defensive animals just need to continue playing sound defense. Cosh’s scheme is set around not letting anything get over the safeties head, allowing 7 to play in coverage, and making the opposing offenses stay on the field longer which gives more chance for mistakes. Oklahoma is going to try and score quickly with their fast paced offense but have plenty of faith in K-State slowing them down.
Special Teams – Here is where the biggest question of the game sits. Special Teams have been K-State’s Jekyll & Hyde. On one hand, the return teams have really clicked and allowed Tyler Lockett to return two kick-offs for touchdowns over the past two games. The average per return is almost 30 yards, which has been huge in the field position game. This part of the special teams is becoming a legitimate threat every time they hit the field. On the other hand, it’s one of the scariest things to witness the kick-off or field goal team get ready. Kick-offs have been horrible all season long. They rarely get deeper than the 15 yard line and there have been a few illegal procedures. When the kicks are short, the coverage team has a much harder time staying in their lanes and the results have come awfully close to disaster. Pertaining to field goals, Anthony Cantele is now 9 of 13 on his attempts and let’s not forget the horrible shank of the extra point at Texas Tech. This part of the special teams is so sporadic that anything longer than about 25 yards is questionable and the last thing any Wildcat fan wants to see is a game that depends on a field goal as time expires. To get a win, the “Jekyll” teams have to continue, and the “Hyde” teams need to die.
Prediction – I’ve gone back and forth on this all week long but everything keeps pointing to one team. Everyone keeps playing on how angry Oklahoma is going to be after losing last week, but rolling into the sold-out house that Snyder built is going to more than even out any advantage that might have brought. Oklahoma will be the best team K-State has faced up to this point in the season but that’s happened week after week (minus KU) and the Wildcat’s have clearly been fine. So it comes down to who is going to be mistake free and the advantage sits squarely with the Wildcats. Oklahoma has almost double the number of turnovers compared to Kansas State (OU: 6 fumbles, 7 interceptions vs. KSU: 3 fumbles, 4 interceptions) and that’s where this victory will come from. Mistake free opportunists always win and that’s why we’ll be 8-0 come Saturday night.