It's almost inevitable, isn't it?
This looks like the year Kansas State football makes the jump into the elite team conversation. All the Wildcats have to do is win out. Piece of cake.
Or is it?
The Wildcats go on the road twice in the next five weeks. That's not a back-breaker, especially when you consider that both of those road trips are at TCU and Baylor. We'll go ahead and give the nod to Kansas State in both games.
The Wildcats also play Texas on December 1. At the beginning of the year, I would have circled the Longhorns as a prohibitive favorite in this game. That was before my eyes were scarred for life after watching the Longhorn defense over the past five games. Texas is currently ranked No. 100 in scoring defense.
Maybe Mack Brown will get things fixed by December 1, but right now—and especially after seeing Texas struggle against 1-7 Kansas—the "W" goes in Kansas State's column.
This leads us to the one team with the best shot of upsetting Kansas State: the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Oklahoma State beat Kansas State 52-45 last year, and although the Cowboys don't have nearly the experience as last year's 12-1 squad, head coach Mike Gundy reloads better than most coaches. After their heartbreaking loss to Texas, the Cowboys have reeled off three consecutive victories and will become bowl eligible if they beat the Wildcats this Saturday.
The biggest concern for Kansas State is the Cowboys' conference-leading rush offense. The Cowboys average 239 rushing yards per game, which means they chew up a lot of clock. Kansas State struggled in the first half of its game against the Jayhawks due to that exact same scenario—Kansas ran the ball a lot and kept quarterback Collin Klein off the field.
Who has the best shot of beating Kansas State?
On the other side of the ball, both defenses, statistically speaking, look about even. Kansas State's defense only yields about 21 yards per game less than Oklahoma State's defense.
But the total defense statistic incorporates three factors: passing, rushing and scoring defense totals. The biggest difference between Kansas State and Oklahoma State's defense is their respective scoring defenses.
Kansas State's scoring defense averages 17.1 points per game, while Oklahoma State's yields an average of 23.1 points per game. An offense that churns up a lot of yardage is a good thing, but in the end, putting the points on the board counts the most.
If Oklahoma State can run the ball and move the chains in time-consuming drives, the Cowboys have a fairly decent shot of upsetting Kansas State.
In fact, of the Wildcats' remaining four opponents, the Cowboys have the best shot of pulling off the upset. This is college football.
Anything can happen.