Coach Snyder will have the Wildcats ready to take on Oklahoma State.
The Kansas State Wildcats suffered a brutal end to their perfect season last week. Now, they look to rebound on the road against the perfect Oklahoma State Cowboys. How does a team that just gave up 59 points hang with the Cowboys offense?
The Wildcats are a strong team. They showed this with a 7-0 start to the season. The team currently sits at 14th in the BCS rankings. On paper, Oklahoma State is a heavy favorite, but Kansas State has been down this road before. Only three times this year has Kansas State been favored (Eastern Kentucky, Kent State and Kansas).
K-State has outgunned explosive offenses and gotten key stops. On October 1st, they went toe-to-toe with Robert Griffin III and finished the game with a 36-35 victory while intercepting the star late in the game.
Kansas State can pull another trick out of its hat tonight. It can be done, but it will take a mistake-free game and several lucky breaks. Here is a rundown of the several things the Cats must execute in order to return to Manhattan with a victory.
Collin Klein and John Hubert executing the option read against the Miami Hurricanes.
The Kansas State Wildcats are at their finest when they dominate time of possession. This is a methodical team. Look for the Cats to work the play clock while putting together backbreaking drives. This team has built a reputation. If Kansas State can keep itself in manageable situations offensively, they can excel.
Last week against Oklahoma, the Wildcats hung with the Sooners throughout the first half. At that time, they were running efficiently and moving the ball enough to keep pace. Unfortunately, they got out of that early in the third quarter. Kansas State then began throwing and took themselves out of their comfort zone.
If they can run the ball against an OSU defense that has proven susceptible, they could pull off a shocker in Stillwater.
Kansas State's ground attack can do more than simply control the clock. They are stepping into a hostile environment in a prime-time game. The OSU crowd will have been tailgating all day. They will be ready to make some noise.
What KSU has to do is eliminate them from the game early. If the Wildcats can get establish a rhythm early, they could put this crowd to sleep.
One thing the methodical pace of the Cats can offer is a boring game atmosphere. This can take the air from the lungs of Cowboys fans. If K-State can make this happen, it lessens the effects of playing on the road and can shift the discomfort to Coach Gundy's troops.
Two weeks ago, Oklahoma suffered an upset loss at home. Last week, they came in determined, and it showed.
Now, the Wildcats must prepare the same way. This is a team many publications picked to finish near the bottom of the conference. They've used that disrespect card all year, running off seven straight wins. Now, they are huge underdogs on the heels of a 41 point beatdown at home last week.
Last week served a wake-up call of sorts. Expect this team to finish the year hungry. They have another giant opportunity this week to shift the spotlight to Manhattan, Kansas. Coach Snyder will not let this team coast through another half of football all season. Expect the Cats to come ready for a battle today.
This could be a trap game for OSU. The Cowboys, fresh off another dominating victory, watched a Wildcat team struggle through a loss last week. If they get ahead of themselves, this night will not end well for the home team.
The battle at the line is the driving point for any successful team. This year, the Wildcats have improved greatly in this aspect. Look for the visitors to come out swinging. This is a smash-mouth team that will attempt to hit the Cowboys' defensive line in the face immediately.
If they can put this team on its heels, they can establish a running game that can dominate a four-quarter battle.
On the defensive side of the ball, Ray Kibble and the Wildcats' front four are the strongest they've been in years. The K-State front four are tough and will need to disrupt Brandon Weeden if they want to find success. Oklahoma State brings a balanced attack reliant on support from their line. KSU must make plays and force this team out of their comfort zone.
The K-State offense will only go as far as the Honey Badger, Collin Klein, takes them. Klein has taken a beating all year, but the quarterback is big, fast and effective. Expect No. 7 to establish the option read attack early.
By doing this, Klein can get the ball in the hands of his playmaker John Hubert or move the ball down the field himself. The Wildcats run the ball as well as anybody and will need to execute early to set the tone for this game.
The K-State quarterback leads all quarterbacks in FBS football in rushing touchdowns (16), and he is third amongst quarterbacks in rushing yards (762). He has an opportunity to increase those totals against a questionable OSU defense.
If Collin Klein can get this KSU offense clicking, it could be a very long day for the undefeated Cowboys.
Tyler Lockett is the wild card on this K-State team. Lockett, a true freshman, has returned kickoffs for touchdowns twice this season. He is also a home run threat on offense. Look for the Wildcats to find ways to get the ball into his hands. The son of a KSU legend is the biggest strength on a special teams unit that is one of the best in the conference.
This is how KSU wins games. It's never pretty. The stat line never really seems to blow you away, but the 'Cats do all the small things to put themselves in favorable positions.
If the Cowboys make the mistake of putting the ball in Locket's hands, in the return game, they will surely be sorry.
Oklahoma State piles up points in bunches. What they bring to the table is a stable of playmakers that can quickly overwhelm defenses. What the 'Cats must do is contain this high-powered group. All year, they have gotten by on defense with a bend-but-don't-break mantra. This team will look to make Weeden and his squad earn every point they score. If they can force long drives, they can get this team out of its comfort zone.
Like many high-powered offenses, the Cowboys like to score fast. If you force them to methodically move the ball, they can get out of their comfort zone. This can lead to costly mistakes over the course of a game. The Wildcats did it to Baylor. They did it to Texas Tech. Now, they must do the same to OSU if they want to emerge victorious.
When teams get out of their element, they press. When teams press, they make mistakes. Kansas State must force these mistakes in order to pull off the upset.
Nigel Malone enters this game with six interceptions on the year. Malone ranks second in the nation in this category. When the 'Cats sit back in coverage, they often force mistakes from reliable quarterbacks. This game should be no different.
If K-State wants to walk away win the W, they will need to win the turnover battle. In order to do that, some key players must make plays in the secondary. Nigel Malone, your team needs you in a big way today.
Arthur Brown is the undisputed leader of this defense. The KSU middle linebacker has a knack for making plays. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, he appears to be limited with a leg injury. K-State will need him to be in playmaker mode against OSU.
Arthur Brown combines incredible speed with a great sense for the game. He uses that to put himself in position to make some big tackles for the 'Cats. If he, along with Tre Walker, can limit the OSU run game, K-State could be in business. They will need to make the Cowboys one-dimensional on Saturday. In order to do that, Brown will need to make his presence known early and often.
Coach Snyder's teams are typically an efficient bunch. This means the team limits turnovers and penalties. This year is no exception.
Kansas State must play smart football on the road to leave happy today. The crowd will be ready to go at kickoff, and early miscues and false starts will only rile them up more. Kansas State must maintain its poise and move the ball. The last thing they need is an early drive killing penalty.
They also don't want to give away any cheap first downs to what may be the most explosive offense in college football.