The Kansas State football team is taking on another Associated Press top 10 team this weekend, the University of Oklahoma. Here’s what to expect from the Oklahoma Sooners in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The Sooners boast a 5-1 record this season, including a big win against Ohio State. Their single loss came at home against Iowa State.
Oklahoma’s offense is led by Heisman candidate quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mayfield leads the Big 12 in passing efficiency and heads the number two passing offense in the conference.
Mayfield also has a history of putting up big numbers against K-State. He threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns last season and 282 yards and five touchdowns the year before. These two teams’ 2015 matchup was a 55-0 rout of K-State in Manhattan.
History is also not on the Wildcats’ side — K-State hasn’t beaten Oklahoma in Manhattan since 1996. That was two coaches ago for the Sooners. K-State hasn’t beaten Oklahoma at all since a 31-30 win in 2014, and K-State has a losing all-time record of 74-19 against Oklahoma.
Former head coach Bob Stoops stepped down in the off-season to make way for Lincoln Riley to be promoted from offensive coordinator. Riley is the youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Stoops’ brother, Mike Stoops, will lead the Oklahoma defense.
Oklahoma’s defense shifted in the off-season to a 4-3 (four linemen and three linebackers) look with a man-to-man pass coverage instead of a 3-4 base that was vestigial to former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ leadership.
On the offense, Oklahoma has really stepped on the gas. They’ve gone to a no-huddle offense with Riley at the helm. Mayfield looks better than ever now that they are moving faster.
I reviewed some game footage of Oklahoma’s only loss this season. That Iowa State team might be the hottest team in the conference despite losing their starting quarterback the week before their matchup with Oklahoma.
I was hoping there was some glaring part of Iowa State’s game plan that served as a blueprint for beating Oklahoma, but I couldn’t see much.
Iowa State did a great job of playing sideline-to-sideline on defense. Oklahoma will try to use screen passes and toss runs to spread the defense out laterally. Iowa State turned those into short gains and losses.
If K-State’s defense can play one-on-one coverage as well as Iowa State did to allow the linebackers to play laterally and the line to get some pressure on Mayfield, they could have a successful day.
On offense, Iowa State used senior linebacker (and third string quarterback) Joel Lanning to mix the offense up a little bit. K-State can accomplish this by adding in redshirt freshman Skylar Thompson’s throwing talents to the offense.
Iowa State also had success on the ground, and if K-State can get the blocking to replicate this, they might just be able to put up some points. This will require a throwing threat of some sort — one can expect Oklahoma to put extra guys up front to try to key in on the run.
I think K-State will struggle again on offense and will not cause enough problems on defense to win this game, but it’ll be a little closer than some are expecting. My prediction: Oklahoma wins 35-17.