Two weeks ago I predicted Baylor wouldn’t score more than 35 points against K-State. The Bears put 35 on the board. Last week I said Daniel Sams would have a great passing day. While there weren’t a lot of attempts, he finished 8/8 on the day for 93 yards (11.6 average) and one touchdown (that’s perfection, by the way). So, in the hopes of not jinxing this run, I cross my fingers and state that the Big 12’s defensive player of the week will come out of Manhattan on Saturday.
There are two immediate assumptions here. The first is that K-State wins. This award is bestowed upon a player that really stands out in a performance that results in victory. Secondly, that victory can’t be a shootout – it’s a victory because the defense stood its ground and limited the opposition.
A lot has been written about this defense the past week after it held West Virginia to 12 points. While it’s good to see that attention, it’s frustrating the unit wasn’t getting credit earlier. Oklahoma State scored 33 points against the Wildcats, but K-State turned the ball over five times in that game (including twice in the red zone, and both times the Cowboys were held to just field goals). Oklahoma State gained 330 yards in that game, while West Virginia had 367 yards last week. Which was the more impressive performance again? Better late than never, but local media should’ve jumped on this bandwagon awhile ago.
So this defense is shaping up to be a force, and Kip Daily already took home a player of the week award in nonconference play after recording two interceptions in one game. However, I think it’s Ryan Mueller’s time. I was high on the kid before the season started, and the only thing he’s done is make me feel bad for the little reservation I did express. He still owns the most impressive play in the Big 12 this year when he lept into the air, forced a fumble, recovered it, and was almost able to run it back for a touchdown against Baylor:
Regardless of whether it’s Mueller, Ty Zimmerman, Blake Slaughter, or another player, you just have to feel like it’s going to happen. Zimmerman was recently named one of 15 Thorpe Award semifinalists for nation’s top defensive back. Travis Britz blocked his third kick of the season against West Virginia, and is developing great push up the middle. This team is really starting to come together.
On the other side of the ball, Iowa State is almost KU bad this year, and the Cyclones are facing a K-State team starting to hit on all cylinders. Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson is injured and, though likely to play, will be less than 100 percent. The Cyclones are 78th nationally in passing yards, 96th in rushing, and 87th in scoring while holding a 1-6 record. Though K-State has only forced six turnovers this year, expect some on Saturday. With the offense also coming together for the Wildcats, Iowa State will be facing an early deficit in a game it believes it can win and will start passing – something it’s very bad at. Interceptions, blitzes that result in sacks and fumbles, and three-and-outs may all be on the menu. There are a lot of faces on this defense and I don’t know which one will stand out, but the team’s performance should put someone over the top and recognized as the Big 12’s defensive player of the week.