Kansas State Wildcats vs. Oklahoma Sooners: Complete Game Preview
After a disappointing season opener, albeit a victory nonetheless, the Oklahoma Sooners seemed to figure out a few kinks in their Week 2 matchup against Florida A&M. Behind a strong performance from junior running back Damien Williams, the Sooners coasted to a 69-13 win in their home opener.
While the score may look impressive, it's hard to take much away from it—praising a highly ranked FBS team for thrashing a FCS team just doesn't feel right (see: Oklahoma State fans).
We will all finally see what the Sooners are actually made of this upcoming weekend.
In what is likely going to be a much better game than last season's matchup, the No. 15 ranked Kansas State Wildcats travel to Norman to take on the No. 6 ranked Sooners. After falling to the Sooners at home by a score of 58-17 in 2011, the Wildcats will come into this game looking for revenge—it's not going to be easy, though.
Here is a preview of absolutely everything you'll need to know for this weekend's game.
Where: Norman, Okla.
When: Saturday, September 22 at 7:50 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Sports Regional Coverage
Live Stream: Sooner Sports
Listen: Sooner Sports Radio Network
Betting Line: Oklahoma (-14), according to Sportsbook
Key Storyline: Kansas State Rushing Attack vs. Oklahoma Defensive Line
This was also the key storyline going into last season's matchup, and the Sooners did give up 182 rushing yards, including 92 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Collin Klein. However, after the Sooners went into halftime only up by six points (23-17), the defense completely shut down the Wildcats offense in the final 30 minutes.
Through three games this season, the Wildcats are averaging 252 rushing yards per game. Junior running back John Hubert is averaging just under 100 yards per contest, and Klein has already found the end zone four times.
While it may be the same rushing attack the Sooners faced last season, the fact is this: Hubert and Klein have gotten better while the Sooners defensive line has been depleted.
The Sooners defensive line has looked rather thin through the first two games of Oklahoma's season. Losing defensive ends Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis to the NFL was a huge hit, but the Sooners have also been without senior defensive tackles Stacy McGee and Casey Walker through their first two games.
McGee has been suspended indefinitely for violating university policy, and Walker has missed the first two games of the season due to personal reasons, though his return seems imminent.
Seniors David King and R.J. Washington are going to have to step up this week in order for the Sooners to have an impact on the Wildcats ground attack.
Kansas State Wildcats
Questionable: LG Nick Puetz (foot)
Doubtful: RG Boston Stiverson (foot)
Probable: DT Casey Walker (personal)
Out: DT Stacy McGee (suspended), DE Chaz Nelson (MCL), DB Quentin Hayes (suspended), WR Jaz Reynolds (suspended), WR Trey Franks (suspended)
Top 25 Implications
This is a matchup between two top-15 teams, so the implications on the surface are obvious. If the Wildcats pull off the on-the-road upset, they will most likely be graciously rewarded with a spot in the top 10.
On the flip side, if Oklahoma loses, they will likely plummet to about where Kansas State is ranked currently—maybe even lower depending how other top-20 teams do this weekend.
However, losing this game for either team means that the rest of the season is going to be an uphill battle.
Being that this is the first conference game for each team, both still have to face a rigorous conference schedule that includes matchups against West Virginia, Texas and TCU (all of which could win the conference this season).
Losing this game doesn't necessarily mean that either team should lose all hope for winning either a conference or national championship, but it certainly doesn't make the journey to those coveted prizes easy.
Kansas State Player to Watch: QB Collin Klein
I'm sorry if you were looking for anybody different here, but Klein is going to be the difference in this game for the Wildcats. There's a reason that he, not anybody else on the roster, is considered a Heisman hopeful.
Even though he ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns against the Sooners last season, he was, for the most part, contained. His passing stats were virtually nonexistent against Oklahoma last season (eight completions for 58 yards), and that is going to have to change for the Wildcats to have a chance in this game.
So far, so good through the first three games—Klein has completed 73 percent of his passes, thrown five touchdown passes and has racked up a really impressive 180.8 quarterback rating. Klein has to continue this trend and keep the Sooners secondary on its toes.
A solid passing game from Klein will only open up more options on the ground for both Hubert and the QB.
Oklahoma Player to Watch: RB Damien Williams
After racking up 156 yards and four touchdowns on just 10 carries, Williams was the star last week against Florida A&M. Through two games, Williams is averaging 130 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game.
Did I mention this guy is the backup?
His backup status could change this week, as Williams has consistently out-performed current starter Dominique Whaley. Big things were expected from Whaley this season after his stellar pre-injury performance last season, but Williams, a junior-college transfer, has sort of spoiled Whaley's return to the field.
While Williams' performances have been impressive thus far, it will be interesting to see how he fares against a big-time opponent like Kansas State. Williams is also the player to watch this week for other interesting storylines, such as: Will Whaley continue to start, and will the Sooners focus more on the passing game this week?
Fun fact: Williams currently leads the nation in yards per carry (13).
I honestly don't think we've seen the true identity of either the Wildcats or Sooners through the first few weeks of the season. While the Wildcats looked unstoppable against Miami in Week 2, they stumbled out of the gate and looked pretty average against North Texas last weekend.
The Sooners also played well below their talent level in their Week 1 matchup against UTEP, and even though they racked up 69 points against Florida A&M, that doesn't necessarily mean that they've figured everything out.
This game will be a great test for both teams, but I'm giving the Sooners an advantage for a few reasons.
First, it's a home game, and the Sooners almost always play better at home. Second, the Sooners overmatch the Wildcats at nearly every position. If they play up to their potential, the Sooners should have no problem covering the -14 spread.
However, I'm not sure the Sooners have put it all together yet, and I expect this game to be much closer than last season's blowout.
Oklahoma 37, Kansas State 24
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