LB Caleb Lavey vs. LB Blake Slaughter
Lavey leads Oklahoma State with 33 tackles through the first four games of their season, including 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. The Celina, Texas product had 53 tackles a season ago, including seven for loss, and 74 tackles and six for a loss two seasons ago. Now in his senior season, it is up to Lavey to lead the Cowboy defense, and he has answered the call so far. Durability and intelligence are two of Lavey’s calling cards, as he has made 30 consecutive starts and has been named to two All-Big 12 Academic Teams.
Slaughter has been the ringleader of the K-State linebacker corps this season, leading the team with 37 tackles. Slaughter may not have the pedigree that Lavey does after redshirting last year and playing mainly special teams in 2011, but he has made his presence felt on the field in 2013. Slaughter was elected as a team captain for this season, and has shown his leadership this year in leading the Wildcat defense.
Edge: Lavey. Lavey has been making an impact for multiple seasons. He has shown that he is a smart player and one to keep an eye on tomorrow.
WR Josh Stewart vs. WR Tyler Lockett
Stewart finished 2012 with some big time numbers: 101 receptions for 1210 yards and seven trips to the end zone. His 7.8 catches per game ranked 10th in the nation, he was already in the Top 10 in school history in receptions and receiving yards entering this season. Despite diminutive stature at 5 feet 10 inches, 185 pounds, he is one of the biggest weapons for the Cowboy offense and a threat to tear apart any defense with 19 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns this year. Last season, the junior had 92 yards agains the Wildcats, and will be looking to eclipse the 100 yard mark against K-State this year. Stewart does not only play on the offensive side of the ball, he also serves as his team’s punt returner. He has returned nine punts this year, averaging 18.2 yards per return, including one touchdown.
Lockett has some similarities to Stewart. Measuring 5 feet 11 inches, 175 pounds, the junior wide receiver had a solid season as a freshman, but has emerged as a true offensive threat last year, hauling in 44 passes for 687 yards in a run-first offense. Lockett already has 29 catches this season for 469 yards and a touchdown. Also like Stewart, Lockett’s impact is not limited to offense. As a kick returner, he has a massive impact on the game, with four career kick return touchdowns and is no doubt hungry for his first this season.
Edge: Stewart. This one was very close, but Stewart is one of the biggest names in the Big 12 and has put up some gaudy numbers in his career. He makes plays all over the field and will be one of the biggest containment issues that K-State will face all season.
RB Jeremy Smith vs. RB John Hubert
Smith is now in his senior season for the Cowboys after spending much of last season fighting a nagging injury. Smith has never eclipsed 100 carries in a season, but will do that this year if he can stay healthy. He has already carried the ball 52 times for 177 yards and six touchdowns. His best season came in 2011, when he ran for 646 yards and nine touchdowns as a part of a solid tandem with Joseph Randle. Despite a 3.4 yards per carry average this season, his career mark came in to 2013 was 6.2, making him a truly dangerous ballcarrier.
Many people expected a monster season from Hubert this year, but the offense has struggled with the run, and Hubert’s numbers are not what many thought they would be. With 58 carries for 238 yards, Hubert has found some success recently, tallying two touchdowns against Texas in his last game and 118 yards against UMass the week before that. Now over the 2000 yard mark in his career, and climbing up the top-ten list in school history for rushing yards, Hubert is looking for a statement game to get his season going.
Edge: Hubert. Hubert has had two good seasons that saw him carry the ball plenty for K-State, while Smith has yet to prove himself as a central part of an offense.