Kansas State will be heading into conference play on the road against a familiar foe: Oklahoma State. The Wildcats are coming off the bye week now officially ranked at number 24 in the Associated Press Poll.
Junior quarterback Skylar Thompson had success against the Cowboys in previous seasons. Thompson is 2-0 over the Cowboys in his career including a 45-40 upset over then tenth-ranked Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
“It gives you confidence going in that you can have success at a place if you’ve been there before,” Klieman said. “You still have to execute. He still has to have a tremendous week of preparation because, obviously, it’s a different offense and it’s a different style of defense, so to speak.”
The Cowboys offense is one of the most potent offenses in the conference, slightly ahead of K-State averaging 44.5 points per game. The Wildcats are averaging 44.0 points per game.
Sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard is a crucial part of the Cowboys offense, leading the conference in total rushing with 642 yards and nine touchdowns in four games. The next closest in total rushing yards is Kansas’s senior running back Khalil Herbert with has 384 yards through four games.
The Cowboys are seventh in the Big 12 in time of possession and like to work quickly.
“The hard thing is you have to practice some tempo where you are going quickly, so everybody has to play running back that’s a running back,” Klieman said. “You’re in for a play and you’re quickly lining up and running a play again.”
The Wildcats are going on the road as a ranked team for the first time since September 2017, but for the Wildcats it’s vital to focus on the job at hand.
“I’m just trying to not think about the rankings too much. It’s a good and bad thing,” junior linebacker Elijah Sullivan said. “Practicing the details, knowing the schemes and watching film on the other team. It comes down to what we have been doing the past couple of weeks, so we just got to improve.”
Senior offensive lineman Scott Frantz is a crucial part of the rushing success for K-State.
“It’s been crazy. Going into spring, there was a time when we didn’t have a running back who was on scholarship,” Frantz said.
The Wildcats had no definite starting running backs heading into the season, but K-State has since displayed a large group of dominant backs.
“Going from that situation, with a bunch of red flags, like don’t we have a running back to now our running backs are amazing, and our offensive line is playing really well. It’s just been an amazing ride. I can’t say enough about this coaching staff,” Frantz said.
The Wildcats currently lead the conference in several categories through three games and will look toward a long road to the Big 12 Championship with a dual with Oklahoma State. The Wildcats will travel to Stillwater to face the Cowboys on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+.