The Kansas State football team will head to Stillwater, Oklahoma, this Saturday to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys, currently the number 13 team in the nation.
This will be the 64th meeting between the two teams. Oklahoma State owns the all-time record 39-24 and currently has a two-game winning streak in the matchup.
The Cowboys are led by head coach and former quarterback Mike Gundy. Gundy has spent almost all of his career at Oklahoma State.
Gundy’s offense is very similar to that of what K-State has seen against West Virginia University and Texas Tech, except senior quarterback Mason Rudolph is the best quarterback K-State has seen, save for the University of Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
Rudolph is a semi-finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the best senior quarterback in college football. He is also a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the overall most outstanding college football player.
Oklahoma State has an offense that is on the cutting edge of the spread and “no huddle” concepts. Gundy’s coaching pedigree is kind of interesting. Chiefly, he is a disciple of Pat Jones, whose “run first” offense featured great running backs like Barry Sanders.
In 2010, current West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen spent a year as Gundy’s offensive coordinator. Under Gundy’s “run first” mentality, the former Mike Leach assistant found a way to marry the “Air Raid Offense” with a balanced rushing attack.
The resulting offense was so potent that Holgorsen was hired away in 2011. The next offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, was also hired away in 2013.
Oklahoma State’s senior receiver James Washington is going to be a matchup nightmare for K-State. At 6 foot 1 inch, his height alone will make it hard for K-State’s cornerbacks (both of whom are 5 foot 9 inches) to defend.
Washington is such a problem, in fact, that K-State head coach Bill Snyder mentioned him several times in this week’s press conference without being prompted.
Shutting down Washington and forcing Oklahoma State to play at a slower tempo is the only way for K-State to keep themselves in this game.
The Cowboys are capable of speeding up or slowing down their offense to take advantage of the opposing defense. Expect Oklahoma State to move quickly against K-State and try to create mismatches between their receivers and K-State’s secondary.
On defense, Oklahoma State plays a base 4-3 defense. It will be interesting to see if they play a lot of disguised coverages to take advantage of the inexperience of K-State’s redshirt freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson.
Oklahoma State boasts the fourth-best defense in total yards allowed in the Big 12 conference. Against the rush — which should be K-State’s primary offensive tactic — the Cowboys rank number four in the conference. They are number two in passing yards allowed.
If last weekend is any indication, K-State will struggle throwing the ball and will go with whichever running back provides the most explosiveness early in the game.
To have a shot in this game, K-State’s defense or special teams will almost certainly have to score.
My prediction: Oklahoma State wins 35-17.