Know Your Opponent: The battle for Big 12 seeding tightens up

The defense gets set on the field during the game against Oklahoma State at Boone Pickens Stadium on Sept. 29, 2019. (Archive photo by Sabrina Cline | Collegian Media Group)

No. 22 Kansas State 5-2 (3-1)

Kansas State seemed to be in position to pull off an upset against TCU after backup quarterback Will Howard’s career performance replacing injured starting quarterback Adrian Martinez. Continuous offensive success will again be a key factor going up against another arsenal of an offense in Oklahoma State. Whether Martinez or Howard is leading the offense, the play calling will be crucial in keeping up. Consistently and effectively passing the ball can propel the offense to new heights as seen early on with Howard at the helm against the Horned Frogs in the 38-28 loss.

No. 9 Oklahoma State 6-1 (3-1)

The Cowboys followed up their close loss to TCU with a comeback 41-34 victory against Texas. Their No. 4 ranked scoring offense put on their usual performance led by quarterback Spencer Sanders, but it was their often-struggling defense who completed the comeback. Allowing only 3 second-half points, the Oklahoma State defense could be the team’s missing piece to unlocking their full potential. Facing off against K-State, the Cowboys defense will be crucial to cementing themselves in second place in the conference. The Wildcats are the final ranked team left on their regular season schedule, making a win in Manhattan a big step for Oklahoma State in securing a ticket to the Big 12 Championship game.


Matchup to watch: battle between the quarterbacks

While quarterbacks are often compared, they never actually face each other on the field, but the play of each team’s quarterback will dictate who will leave the game with only one Big 12 loss. Each team has allowed opposing quarterbacks to rack up the numbers for in-conference play so far. This trend will likely continue as Sanders and either Martinez or Howard are fully capable of leading their respective offenses down the field all game.

Sanders’ time as the starting Cowboy quarterback began his freshman season and continues into his senior year. His career-best 290 passing yards per game highlights how devastating he has been to opposing defenses this season while also running for 50.3 yards per game. Contributing to both the passing and running game is still probably not his best trait. Sanders has spread the ball to his receiving options wonderfully, with four receivers averaging over 40 receiving yards per game and freshman Stephon Johnson Jr. collecting 90 yards in his first game with heavy playing time. Taking down Sanders will not be as simple as locking on one or two passing options when he uses all weapons at his disposal.

The Wildcats’ passing attack has not matched the Cowboys’, but the potential is there. While Martinez’s running attack has been very important and among the best in the nation from the quarterback position, an increase in the passing game is necessary. Howard was able to throw for just under 200 yards in the first half but seemed to still be given limited opportunities to pass the ball. Offensive coordinator and former K-State quarterback Collin Klein’s trend of leaning into the running game rather than airing the ball out with his play calling must end. No matter who is playing quarterback against Oklahoma State, both have illustrated they can make the needed throws.


Key players


Wide Receivers Malik Knowles/Kade Warner

Entire Secondary

Oklahoma State:

Wide Receivers Bryson Green/Brennan Presley

Safety Kendal Daniels


Prediction: Oklahoma State 33-27

Editor’s note: The time and date of the Oklahoma State game is at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 29. This date incorrectly stated it as 7 p.m. on Oct. 22 in the print edition. The Collegian apologizes for this error and any confusion it may have caused.