Know Your Opponent: Oklahoma

Senior quarterback Jake Waters rushes past Oklahoma defenders for a 53 yard gain on the first play of the third quarter of the No. 14-ranked Wildcats' 31-30 upset of the No. 11-ranked Sooners October 18, 2014, at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. (Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State heads to Norman, Oklahoma, to take on the Oklahoma Sooners this weekend. Oklahoma leads the all-time series 75-19 and leads the series against Bill Snyder 15-8. K-State’s last win against the Sooners came in 2014 in Norman by one point.

K-State has actually played Oklahoma fairly well in Norman and their only two wins in the series since routing OU 35-7 in the 2003 Big 12 Championship Game have been in Norman.

The last two times head coach Bill Snyder has played Oklahoma after K-State’s bye week, as is the case this season, the Wildcats were victorious.

Oklahoma’s head coach Lincoln Riley, is in his second year after being promoted from Offensive Coordinator when former head coach Bob Stoops retired.

Riley did not miss a beat when he took over last season. He took advantage of a large returning group to lead Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff. This year, his team is ranked eighth in the AP Poll and looks poised for another trip to the Big 12 Championship Game.

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Co-offensive coordinators Cale Gundy and Bill Bedenbaugh run a hurry-up-no-huddle offense. It is based on their team’s significant speed and talent advantage in most games they play to maximize the number of plays, and thus the number of opportunities to take advantage of that talent.

Oklahoma uses a lot of tactics similar to the Mike Leach air raid offense that get his receivers open in space and really attack the core of a defense, but I would not call it a true air raid. Basically, this offense is what would happen if the air raid and the read option had a child.

The offense is predicated on quarterback Kyler Murray, who is playing one more college football season before joining the Oakland Athletics, getting the ball to one of his very talented ball-carriers.

Murray is basically a clone of former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield when it comes to his ability to make plays once his protection breaks down, but where he excels is in the read option.

He has a lot of toys in this offense, too. Murray has size and speed at the receiver position in Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb and one of the most talented running backs in the Big 12 in Trey Sermon.

This is the best offense in the conference and one of the best in the country. K-State will have to dial up something special if they hope to stop them at all, and they will have to stop them a few times if they want to keep it close.

The Oklahoma defense is a big question mark coming into this game. Former defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was fired after Oklahoma’s loss to Texas and interim coordinator Ruffin McNeill has only had one opportunity to show any differences.

McNeill came out last week against TCU in a 4-2-5 defense, which is what Stoops ran before he was fired. The difference seemed to be the energy they played with, McNeill seemed to get them to swarm to the ball a lot more than Stoops.

While Oklahoma showed the ability to stifle TCU’s offense early, the Horned Frogs did suffer from very poor quarterback play. Later in the game, TCU has more opportunities on offense.

Key matchups

Hurry-up versus slow-down: K-State’s strategy coming into the game should be no secret. They should hope to do what Army did to Oklahoma early in the season: control the clock and keep Murray off the field.

Army limited Oklahoma’s opportunity to be more talented than them by holding the ball for almost 45 of the 60 minutes of game play. They used their typical option run attack to burn the clock, tire out the defense and smash the ball down the throat of the Oklahoma defense.

OU is susceptible to this kind of attack because the Big 12 offenses they typically face encourage them to get smaller, quicker defenders on the field. These defenders are more easily blocked and moved by big offensive lineman.

If K-State has a chance, they will need to use a formation they showed two weeks ago against Oklahoma State; the quarterback in the pistol with a running back on his left, right and straight behind him.

This formation allows for a lot of decoys and options to take advantage of Oklahoma’s tendency to over pursue the ball carrier.

Murray versus K-State defense: The Wildcats defense will have its work cut out for it this weekend. Murray is exactly the type of quarterback that K-State typically struggles with.

Murray can extend plays and force K-State’s undersized secondary to cover his very talented receivers for a long period of time. Their ability to do that is doubtful.

Even if the secondary can provide coverage, Murray is very capable as a runner and K-State’s linebackers and lineman are too slow to really stand a chance of stopping him from scrambling for long yardages.

K-State will have to bog down this game and make sure that they control the tempo and slow down Kyler Murray if they want to have a chance. I doubt they can do either of those things, 51-24 Oklahoma.

Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, an alumnus from Olathe, Kansas. I graduated in spring 2022 with a Masters in Mass Communication, and I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. I covered K-State sports for the Collegian for four years.