We’re closing in on the end of another season of Kansas State football, and you couldn’t find many teams playing more confidence than the Wildcats at juncture in the year. Last year K-State left Norman with a 24-19 victory in a game that ultimately decided the Big 12 Champion. When the same title isn’t on the line this year, the winner of this contest assumes #4 in the league and sets itself up nicely for bowl game selection. Here are the five things we’ll be keeping an eye on this weekend:
1. Interceptions: Jake Waters hadn’t thrown an interception in conference play until giving one away to TCU last week. Daniel Sams hasn’t thrown one since Baylor. As much as K-State’s two quarterbacks put the ball on the ground, they do avoid throwing it away. Trevor Knight gets the start in place of injured Blake Bell, and has had trouble making decisions when he puts the ball in the air – he’s thrown four touchdowns to three interceptions this year. Paging Kip Daily…
2. Crowd Support: K-State will have its 13th consecutive sellout crowd on hand for its game against Oklahoma. The noise definitely played a hand in helping limit Baylor to 35 points, and now a freshman quarterback who’s looked rattled all year steps into Bill Snyder Family Stadium for the first time.
3. Defensive Leadership: Ty Zimmerman was the defense’s quarterback, and from all available accounts it appears he won’t be able to play on Saturday. The biggest problem during North Dakota State’s game-winning drive early in the season wasn’t just a matter of execution – there was no heart. Someone needs to step up and be the team’s emotional leader. It’s also incumbent on MLB Blake Slaughter to keep his troops organized no matter what happens in the game.
4. The Weather: Breaking out another Bill Snyder classic, when asked about the weather during his press conference, he responded, “That’s not cold. This is Kansas, after all.” Kansas or not, these are two teams that typically prefer to run the ball anyway. Let’s see if playing in chilly conditions for the first time this year keeps the number of passes down to extremely low levels.
5. The Element Of Surprise: Speaking of playcalling, Knight makes Oklahoma a better rushing team but also much more one-dimensional. K-State has been burned already this year on a flea-flicker and a couple other play-action plays. The Wildcats will regularly be stacking the box, but must be on the lookout for shots downfield.