Oklahoma State finally has another home game, and this time they are hosting the Kansas State Wildcats. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat to the Texas Longhorns and the end of the five-game winning streak in Austin. This week there is another streak at stake for the Cowboys. Kansas State has won the previous two matchups between these two teams, including last season’s 31-12 blowout.
The Kansas State Wildcats are seeing a fast start to their season under first-year head coach Chris Klieman, and coming off a bye week are itching to play some more football. Quarterback Skylar Thompson will be looking to guide the high scoring Kansas State offense with running backs James Gilbert and Jordan Brown.
Oklahoma State will be looking to see how this team can respond from a loss in Austin in a game that they saw numerous chances to grab a victory and continue this season’s fast start. Playmakers, Chuba Hubbard, and Tylan Wallace will look to find openings in this Kansas State defense, while quarterback Spencer Sanders will try and regain some confidence after a disappointing loss.
This Saturday in Stillwater could very well turn into a shootout, which will mean which defense can get the most stops and give their team the chance to put the other away.
- When: SAT, SEP 28, 6:00pm CT
- Where: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK
- Forecast: Partly Cloudy, around 81°
- Stream: ESPN+
- Betting Line: OKST -4.5, O/U 60.5
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Kansas State Wildcats
By Andy Mitts
Coming into the year, I don’t think many people expected the Kansas State conference opener to be one of the key games of the early season. The Wildcats have greatly exceeded expectations. During their bye week, there has been talk that they may be one of the top 3 teams in the conference. This is their first chance to prove it.
Quarterback Skylar Thompson has impressed early. The large stable of running backs have been very productive. But it’s the offensive line that has been the true star of the show. Behind that line, the entire team is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. They have only allowed 3 sacks in 3 games. The Kansas State offense will continue to be productive so long as they maintain their level of dominance.
The defense is anchored by their experienced defensive line. Facing Chuba Hubbard, the leading rusher in all of college football, this unit will need to step up again.
Kansas State Keys To The Game
Contain the Quarterback – Spencer Sanders has shown the ability to run the ball, opening up another dimension in the run game. Limiting him to a pocket passer will help simplify the defensive scheme. That will go a long way to neutralizing a potent Cowboy attack.
Control The Clock – Kansas State is not set up to handle a shootout well. The big play ability of the Oklahoma State offense will come through eventually. Limiting those opportunities will be crucial.
Big Special Teams Plays – Malik Knowles is one of the most dynamic returners in the conference. If he can help the Wildcats shorten the amount of field they need to cover to score, it will make it hard for Oklahoma State to put this game out of reach.
The advantage in the trenches is real. Kansas State is more experienced and more physical on the lines, and I expect that advantage to become evident early. Oklahoma State will be able to get some big scores, and they’ll keep it close, but I see Kansas State establishing a lead early in the 2nd quarter that they never relinquish.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
After seeing the first test of Big 12 play, it is evident that this Cowboy offense is legitimate this season. After putting up 30 points with a redshirt freshman quarterback, Cowboy fans can relax a little and know that this offense can keep the Cowboys in almost any game. This week will not be any different than most in the Big 12, touchdowns will need to be scored, and field goals will need to be kicked at every chance possible.
If last week is any indication of the offensive gameplan, then Chuba Hubbard needs to be prepared for another thirty-plus carries against the Kansas State defense. He entered last week averaging 173 yards rushing per game. But was held to only 121 yards last week; if the offensive line (coached by former Kansas State coach Charlie Dickey,) can get Chuba open holes in the line, then the offense will be able to open up the playbook and find their rhythm.
Thinking of rhythm, how is Spencer Sanders going to respond to his first college loss? There were times in the Texas game that he did not seem in a rhythm and made some questionable choices. This goes back to the offensive line again if they can win the line of scrimmage and give Sanders enough time in the pocket to find open receivers or even give him some running lanes. Then, the Cowboy offense will look like it has in the opening three weeks of the season.
The Cowboy defense has their work cut out for them this week. The front seven will need to play well and win the point of attack against the Wildcat offensive line and the rushing game. If the Cowboy defense can stop the rushing game and force Skylar Thompson to try and win this game through the air will be a recipe for a win in Stillwater.
Some questions that will need to be answered are. How will the coaches respond to Spencer Sanders throwing two interceptions last week? Hopefully, they have the confidence to let him stay in control and have access to the entire playbook. Even more so, can the defense string together defensive stops? Last week, there were too many drives that had Texas in the third and long, but the defense could not get a tackle or the secondary left a receiver open for a first down. What adjustments has Coach Knowles made this week will be telling for the rest of the season.
Oklahoma State Keys To The Game
Do not force: Sometimes after a loss, a young quarterback will try and force the issue on offense if Spencer can stay calm and let the offense come to him and let holes develop in the defense instead of trying to force them open. The Cowboys will be quiet, alright.
Spread the attack: Last week Chuba Hubbard rushed the ball for 34 times; after a while, defenses are going to focus on that. If Coach Gundy and Coach Gleeson can look to get others involved on offense, it will keep Kansas State from keying in on one particular player.
Front seven: The Cowboy front seven will need to win the line of scrimmage, plain and simple. Do not let Kansas State find a rhythm and keep their average of 44 points a game. Instead, be disruptive and force some quick three-and-outs.
This week will be a story of Hubbard-Sanders rushing show. Coach Gundy likes to control the game with a strong rushing attack, and this week will be no different. Look for the Cowboys to try and win this game with a strong rushing attack that leads to big pass plays down the field to the receiving corp “Wallace and Co.” With the defense being motivated after giving up 36 points to Texas look for them to take some chances to cause turnovers.