A Summers View: Kansas State’s Key Matchup Against Oklahoma


48-27. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats are bowl bound, reaching the all-important 6th win this past weekend in a thrilling victory against TCU.  Jack Cantele kicked 4 field goals, including the game winner from 41 yards out with 3 seconds left in the contest.  For his efforts, Cantele earned Big 12 Special Team Player of the Week.  The game turned into one of the more exciting Big 12 contests of the season as, Kansas State led 17-7 at the half.  But the Horned Frogs came out determined in the third quarter, scoring 21 points, as time dwindled down, TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom kicked a 56-yard field goal with 2:13 left to give the Horned Frogs a 31-30 lead, but Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett would not go down without a fight, as the two moved the chains into field goal range.  Jack Cantele then earned a spot in Wildcat fans hearts as he pushed the current win streak to 4, pushing the Cats current record to 6-4 (4-3 in Big 12).

The QB rotation continues to work wonders, as Daniel Sams ran for 109 yards and 1 TD and Jake Waters threw for 234 yards and 2 TD’s but did throw 1 interception.  Waters’ two touchdowns amassed over half his passing total for the day, as Tyler Lockett caught a 74-yard TD and Tramaine Thompson caught a 79 yard score.  Lockett once again led the receiving core, hauling in 8 catches for 123 yards.  But lost in the thrilling victory were the injuries of defensive lineman Travis Britz and team leader Ty Zimmerman at safety.  Will these two key members of the defense be available to play against the Oklahoma Sooners?  How will the Sooners respond to the loss of running back Damien Williams and wide receiver Lacoltan Bester, both ruled out this past Wednesday?  Injuries and how Kansas State responses will be my weekly key matchup, but before that, let’s take a look at the Oklahoma Sooners.

Last week, the Oklahoma Sooners beat the Iowa State Cyclones 48-10.  But the score can be a tad deceiving.  The two were tied at 0-0 after the first quarter, 10-10 at half before the Sooners blew the doors off the Cyclones.  The offense, which struggled under QB Blake Bell, sparked after Trevor Knight replaced Bell, who suffered a concussion during the 2nd quarter.  Knight, who went into the season as the starter before an injury forced Bell into the lineup, completed 8 of 14 passes for 61 yards while adding 123 yards rushing and 1 TD.  Running back Damien Williams led the Sooners in rushing with 128 yards and 2 TDs and Brennan Clay added an 86-yard TD run as the Sooners continued to control the ground game.  Clay averages 64.3 yards rushing while Williams average 61.4 per game, both dynamic runners.

OU is a different team with Knight at QB, although Bell has averaged 176.3 yards per game (150.8 passing).  Bell has been ruled out this weekend’s match up due to the concussion sustained last week.  Starter Knight adds a certain athleticism to the quarterback position that Bell doesn’t, as the Belldozer is more of a hard-nosed downhill runner.

Here is where the key match up comes into view.  Injuries will play a huge part into this weekend’s match up.  First off, with Knight starting the game, how will the more dynamic QB be utilized in an Oklahoma run game that sits currently second in the Big 12 in rushing offense with 236.4 yards per game?  How will the loss of Damien Williams affect that potent rushing attack?  Will the Cats have Britz, who has stepped up tremendously in his sophomore year, ready to help control the line of scrimmage?  On the year, Britz has 3 sacks, 30 tackles and 4 blocks kicks from his interior position.  Will Ty Zimmerman be available to quarterback the defense?  Signs point to no for Zimmerman, who leads the team with 3 interceptions and sits second on the team with 70 tackles, but mum’s the word with Coach Snyder.   Without Zimmerman, TCU’s Casey Pachall went right after inexperienced Dylan Schellenberg.  If Zimmerman is out, can Schellenberg rebound to help beat the Sooners?  Zimmerman is a key attribute in stopping the running game, as the safety time and time again makes key plays from his safety position.  If not available, who can help pick up his load?  Even with these key questions, the Kansas State Wildcats are favorited against the Oklahoma Sooners, a feat that hasn’t happened very often in this rivalry.  And that Cat fans, is something to get excited about.