Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 match up in our Oklahoma State vs. Kansas State preview and prediction.
6 P.M. CT, Saturday, September 28, 2019, Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Oklahoma
TV: ESPN+ (You can purchase ESPN+ through our link below for just $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year and cancel at any time).
Radio: Cowboy Radio Network (Dave Hunziker)/K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson)
Opening line: Oklahoma State -4
Safety Denzel Goolsby
The senior safety led the Wildcats in tackles and grabbed an interception in the big win in Starkville over a week ago, earning him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for that week. A similar performance would be helpful to the Wildcats’ chances in Stillwater. Steady tackling from a safety may be the difference between an eight yard run and a 38 yard run. Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders threw two interceptions against Texas, and while one was because his arm got him as he threw the other was just an absolutely terrible throw trying to force something that wasn’t there. If Kansas State can mimic the Longhorns defensive success and force the young QB to throw there should be chances for a seasoned defensive back to make some plays on the ball.
Quarterback Skylar Thompson
Gone are the days of Bill Snyder and the Kansas State QBs running the delayed draw into the middle of the line over and over and over. The new look Wildcat offense is still run heavy but not really with the quarterback. Thompson hasn’t gotten to throw it a lot with 22 attempts int he season opener being the most this season but he has been very efficient going 36-53 (68%) with 4 TDs and no interceptions. With OSU most likely selling out to stop the run game of KSU they will need to take advantage of the shots they take down the field and Thompson has done that so far this season.
Kick Returner Malik Knowles
While Knowles is actually a wide receiver I wrote kick returner above because I feel like that’s where he could make a difference. The redshirt freshman returned one for a touchdown against Mississippi State, earning him Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week that week. Being a good kick returner is all about confidence which he should have plenty of after his showing in Starkville. Oh and Oklahoma State’s kick coverage teams are mostly terrible and have been for a while. Even if Knowles can’t take one to the house against the Cowboys if he can set them up with good starting field position it would go along way to helping his offense.
Quarterback Spencer Sanders
Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard are absolute studs but they can be slowed down. Teams can load the box to keep backs from breaking long runs and wide receivers can be schemed out of the game. Thats where Sanders comes in. The young (emphasis on young) gunslinger has been back and forth between electric and obviously a freshmen multiple times in his four starts as a Cowboy. The game will continue to slow down for him with each game played and he’ll do a better job of making his reads quickly and most importantly knowing when to tuck it and run. A few times against Texas he rolled out and waited and for a receiver to come open only to throw an incomplete pass when he could’ve have taken off and gotten the first down with his legs. The more he runs the more the defense will have to pay attention to playing contain which will in turn open up things for Hubbard and Wallace. Sanders is obviously the future in Stillwater and looks to be a thorn in the side of Big 12 defenses for the next 3 and 2/3s seasons but the sooner he grows up the better for the Cowboys because he’s the kind of player that gives you a chance against anyone you go up against.
Cornerbacks AJ Green and Rodarius Williams
Green and Williams are the most veteran pair of corners in the Big 12, both made their 30th start in the loss to Texas, and they will be needed to lock down the back end against Kansas State. The Wildcats like to run and if last week’s game against the Longhorns showed us anything it’s that the Cowboys’ struggle in run defense. When DC Jim Knowles is eventually forced to move his safeties down to help with the rushing attack Green and Williams have to ignore the play action and be able to win one on one matchups with the receivers streaking downfield. Both are tall for cornerbacks and are tough to throw against but if things aren’t going the Pokes’ way they both also tend to get frustrated, especially Green who starts to commit too many penalties. He had two 15 yard flags on what ended up being the game winning drive for Baylor in Waco last season, and had penalties on back to back plays last week against Texas when OSU desperately needed the ball back. Against Kansas State both need to stay focused and not get lulled to sleep by the grinding ground game so they can make sure to not give up any easy bombs.
How good is the Kansas State offense? The first two games of the season the Wildcats rolled to the tune of 49 and 52 points but that was against severely overmatched opponents. The third game against Mississippi State the offense only scored 24 with an additional touchdown coming on special teams. The Bulldog defense is better than what they’ll face this coming game but the Cowboys offense is in another league from what the KSU defenders saw in Starkville. After an embarrassing outing in Manhattan last season and losing a game in Austin last week that they could’ve won the Cowboys should come out against KSU firing on all cylinders. If it turns into a shootout under the lights in Stillwater can the Wildcats ground-based offense put up enough points to hang around?
Can Oklahoma State slow down the Kansas State rushing attack? Against Texas the Cowboys were abused all game on the ground. The Longhorn line pushed around the Cowboys three-man front and their undersized and depleted linebacker corps. I’m sure the Wildcats noticed and will try to keep the ball on the ground, pick up first downs, and more importantly chew up clock to keep the ball out of the hands of the three-headed offensive monster of Sanders, Hubbard, and Wallace. If Kansas State can have the sort of success that Texas had the thin OSU defense will just get softer the longer the game goes and the worse it’s going to go for the boys in orange. Mike Gundy team needs DC Jim Knowles to find a way to dial up the pressure on the run game, a task made easier by Skylar Thompson not being the threat in the passing game that Texas QB Sam Ehlinger is.
Oklahoma State 44 Kansas State 38
The Cowboys played arguably their worst game of the season last year against a bad Kansas State team and got ran off the field in the second half. Don’t think that the current version of the team has forgotten that one. Add in a loss a to Texas last week in a game where there were plenty of missed opportunities, and I think the Pokes come out and get after the Wildcats. That being said the ground game and clock control offense that Kansas State runs is the perfect counter to Oklahoma State’s warp speed brand of football. Combine what I assume will be a time of possession edge for KSU with having an extra week to prepare and I get the feeling this will be a close game throughout. These two teams look to be the 3rd and 4th best teams in the conference in this early part of the season so I expect a good showing from both. Ultimately being in Stillwater at night is the deciding factor.
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