Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 game in our Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State preview and prediction.
3 p.m. November 7th, Bill Synder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kansas
TV: FOX (Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman)
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson); Cowboys Radio Network (Dave Hunziker)
Spread: OSU (-9)
Fun Fact: The Wildcats and Cowboys have split their last eight games.
QB Spencer Sanders
Against Texas Sanders was electric. He completed 69% of his passes for 400 yards and 4 tds. He found star wideout Tylan wallace for 11 catches on 11 targets, hard to do against air, for 184 yards and 2 of those tds. He also regularly hurt the Longhorns with his legs. He was truly elite… until he wasn’t. A very bad interception and two fumbles lead directly to 13 Texas points in a game that was eventually a loss in overtime. If Sanders can play mostly mistake free they can beat anyone on their schedule, but even with what is looking to be an all-time Cowboy defense you can’t give the ball back to Big 12 offenses 3 times and expect to win many game.
TE Jelani Woods
One of the most frustrating things for Oklahoma State fans the last few seasons has been how little Woods is used in the passing game. If you are unaware of Woods he is six foot seven, 270lbs (think LeBron James in pads), fast and agile for his size but yet only has 5 catches for 60 yards and a single score on the year. He did have a bad drop on an important down against Texas but that shouldn’t leave a poor taste in anyone’s mouth. Even with the loaded receiving corp Woods needs at least 5 targets a game. In the past he’s been regulated to having to help a poor offensive line block but with Spencer Sanders’ ability to move OC Kasey Dunn and Mike Gundy need to find ways to get the ball into the hands of their match-up nightmare.
QB Will Howard
Replacing a multi-year starting quarterback is never an easy task. Having to do it midseason because of injury makes it more difficult. Having to do it as a true freshmen makes it a very tall task. Howard had done well replacing the injured Skylar Thompson by coming in to finish off the win versus Texas Tech and then leading the team to wins against TCU and hapless Kansas, but then the West Virginia game happened. Only 184 yards on 51% passing with a 3-1 interception-to-touchdown ratio won’t get it done against most Big 12 teams. The Cowboys have a better defense than the Mountaineers, and a better offense when it gets rolling. Howard has to play good this week to give his team a chance.
RB Deuce Vaughn
Another freshmen in a key spot on the Wildcat offense Vaughn has been spectacular! At only five foot five and 170lbs he is lightning quick and eludes tacklers with ease. Catching the ball out of the backfield is where he does his big hitters, averaging 24 yards a catch! Vaughn was bottled up against West Virginia so he should be itching to play this game. His explosiveness will be needed.
Wildcat Defensive Line
Oklahoma State has two good running backs and a quarterback with sprinter’s speed but they also have a weak offensive line due to injury. It’s important to control the line of scrimmage and not let Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown get going or let Spencer Sanders break the pocket and run. Kansas State has 16 sacks on the year and 15 have been by defensive linemen. If the line can keep Sanders contained and force him to throw under pressure there’s a chance for interceptions as he can often be careless and stare down receivers.
Who bounces back? Disappointment can kill a team quickly. The Cowboys and Wildcats both suffered embarrassing losses last week at the hands of Texas and West Virginia respectively. Both are at one loss in conference play now but both still control their own destiny for a Big 12 title if they win out. Dropping a second game in conference makes it far more difficult to reach that goal because they would need other teams to lose in the just the right way. A second conference loss wouldn’t be as bad for KSU as it would the Cowboys though as the ‘Cats have already beaten Oklahoma (who’s suddenly looking like Oklahoma again) while Bedlam looms large for the Pokes in the next game. A win for Kansas State would mean holding on to the tie at the top of the Big 12 with Iowa State, assuming they beat Baylor. A win for Oklahoma State would mean sole possession of number one and set up a HUGE match-up in Norman the following weekend. Both teams should be feeling the pressure and whichever can handle it better will have a distinct advantage.
Oklahoma State: 45 Kansas State: 17
Cleary the better team, Oklahoma State did everything right last week except win. The defense bullied the Longhorns offense, holding them to 287 yards. Basically they let them do nothing except for one drive and that was aided by a bonehead punt block call the resulted in a penalty that gave the ‘Horns a first down on 4th and 22. The Cowboy offense on the other hand racked up 530 yards. But all that good was outweighed by a handful of mistakes. If not for four turnovers and a kick return td by Texas the Cowboys is being talked about for the playoffs after beating UT somewhere in the neighborhood of 49-13. But losing like that shows why we have to play the games! On paper Oklahoma State is clearly the better team again this week but Klieman is a good coach and his team should be motivated coming off a loss. Last time they lost all they did the next game was go beat the Sooners! But OSU is also licking its wounds, and the Pokes defense is elite. Not just good for the Big 12 but maybe top five in the nation elite, and easily the best in the conference. Oklahoma State likes to close up the run and play tight man on the back end with their talented secondary. I assume the plan will be to shut down Deuce Vaughn’s game-changing ability and force Will Howard to throw quickly against a good Pokes pass rush. That’s a tough place for a true freshmen and I see a long day ahead for the boys in Purple.
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