Kansas has struggled mightily this season in search of its first victory, a victory which may seem further elusive with a tough schedule remaining. However, there have been some positive signs that David Beaty’s influence is starting to take hold in Lawrence. In a solid losing effort against Texas Tech last week, Kansas showed some serious signs of life on offense while the defense gave its most impressive performance up to this point. Will they be able to provide a much-needed repeat performance against undefeated Oklahoma State? That remains to be seen.
Oklahoma State may be the most interesting undefeated team in the nation right now. The Pokes appear to have a flair for the dramatic in finding different ways to win this season. The pass defense is solid and the special teams are opportunistic. After an overtime tussle West Virginia two weeks ago, it appears that the often maligned Mike Yurcich offense still has some work to do. Kansas, with its porous pass defense, seems to be the perfect remedy to get the Cowboy offense firing on all cylinders.
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 24th, 2:30 CST
LOCATION: Boone Pickens Stadium (Stillwater, OK)
FORECAST: Mostly cloudy with winds 11 mph, 66° F
TV: FS1 / Fox Sports Go
BETTING LINE: Oklahoma State -34.5, O/U 59
KANSAS JAYHAWKS 0-6 (0-3)
Last weekend’s loss to Texas Tech provided some hope for a rebuilding Kansas program. Freshman quarterback Ryan Willis was impactful in leading the Jayhawks to two touchdowns on his way to a 330-yard passing day on 35 of 50 passing. Running back De’Andre Mann broke through with a 107 yard performance in his best game of 2015. The defense surrendered over 500 yards to the Red Raiders but they held their explosive offense to only 30 points, a season low.
The Jayhawks need to build upon the little victories they amassed last week. They were within striking distance for a victory when an untimely turnover changed the complexion of the game. While the Cowboys provide a formidable offense of their own it’s not exactly like this is foreign territory for Kansas. Executing a game plan similar to what we saw against Texas Tech will put them in position to be competitive this week.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR KANSAS
Run – Establishing a solid weapon like De’Andre Mann early will go a long way to improve their chances. It will help reduce any pressure on Ryan Willis to try and win the game with his arm. Running the game clock and keeping Mason Rudolph and the Cowboy offense on the sidelines will be a huge plus.
Don’t Beat Yourself – Preventing costly turnovers and minimizing unnecessary penalties is a must. In a game where Kansas is at a decided disadvantage in talent it must do the little things to help itself in all three facets of the game. Keep in mind that Oklahoma State forced 7 turnovers in their 69-14 victory against UTSA earlier this season.
Keep Doing What You’re Doing – Although not victorious, the defensive template for success has been created. A repeat performance in effort will be invaluable in trying to lasso Oklahoma State’s varied assortment of playmakers. If Kansas can get a similar, or better, effort from its defense then they may find themselves in position to succeed late in the game.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS 6-0 (3-0)
While Baylor and TCU continue to garner most of the Big 12 limelight, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have been somewhat under the radar. The defense has been the foundation of this team and it has been rock solid. Emmanuel Ogbah leads a defensive front which has been a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. Quarterback Mason Rudolph is completing 63 percent of his passes as he leads an effective, though unbalanced, offense. OSU is only averaging 95.3 rushing yards per game in conference play and Mike Gundy used the bye week to focus on correcting this issue.
The Pokes believe they are poised to place themselves beyond conference dark horse as they head into the heart of their remaining Big 12 schedule. They are definitely close to becoming a complete team that can compete for, and win, the conference title. Building upon their success and strengthening their weaknesses this week will further embolden a team starting to believe that bigger prizes are attainable.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR OKLAHOMA STATE
Don’t Take Them Lightly – The Cowboys only need to look back to last Saturday’s game to see that Kansas can cause them some problems. This is most likely a concern that Mike Gundy has voiced to his team repeatedly in preparation for this matchup.
Do Something On The Ground – The lack of a strong running game has been a point of concern. The Pokes should focus on establishing a solid ground game against a defense currently allowing over 200 rushing yards per game in its last five games. In turn, allow Mason Rudolph to pick his shots and take advantage of an overmatched defense through the air once the run has softened them up. Balance is beautiful.
Hold Tight – Mason Rudolph has been effective through the air averaging over 300 passing yards per game. If there is any room for complaint it’s the seven interceptions in six games Rudolph has thrown. No need to force any throws in this matchup and provide Kansas with any easy opportunities to score.
A very stingy Oklahoma State defense that has only allowed five passing touchdowns looks to make a Kansas win a near impossibility. They were able to garner thirteen sacks in two games against Texas and Kansas State. This pretty much ensures that Willis will be running for his life. The Cowboys may have won by the thinnest of margins the last three weeks, but this trend comes to an end with a victory that covers the spread.