No. 15 K-State (2-0)
Kansas State football began the season performing better than most. With an 88-13 point differential, the Wildcats blossomed in every aspect. K-State is one of seven teams ranking inside the top 20 of both scoring offense and defense. Better than that, the Wildcats rank No. 1 in the nation in rush defense, allowing just 38 rushing yards per game and tied second for 1.41 rushing yards per carry. K-State now flaunts its run defense against Power 5 programs.
A 2-0 record does not tell the true story for Missouri. After taking down South Dakota 35-10, the Tigers had to stave off a fourth quarter 13-point comeback from Middle Tennessee State. As near three-score favorites by most sportsbooks in the game, Missouri failed to meet expectations against the winless Blue Raiders. The Tigers have a few players who still stand out while the team struggles. Those stars will need full support from their teammates from here on out.
Matchup to Watch: Wildcat cornerbacks vs. Luther Burden III
No one has been better for the Missouri Tigers than wide receiver Luther Burden III. Coming in as the top offensive recruit in 2022, Burden amped his production in early 2023. Burden’s 213 receiving yards account for nearly half of the entire team’s receiving production in two games. Few receivers are thought to be as electric with the ball in their hands. Standing at 5-foot-11, Burden’s style highly contrasts those the K-State cornerbacks have faced.
The few times receivers succeeded against Wildcat cornerbacks through two games were those of larger size. With SEMO’s and Troy’s leading receivers each standing at 6-foot-2 or taller, Burden brings a different element against cornerbacks Jacob Parrish and Will Lee III.
As new starters, both Parrish and Lee have flourished in the secondary. Parrish has stayed glued to receivers while collecting three pass breakups in two games. Lee does not have a pass breakup but brought in his first interception against Troy. The duo not only succeed as pass defenders — Parrish and Lee have a combined nine tackles, with 1.5 tackles for loss from Lee. Both their coverage and tackling will be crucial when facing a threat who excels at winning at the catch point and with the ball in his hands.
Cornerbacks Jacob Parrish/Will Lee
Guard Taylor Poitier
Wide receiver Luther Burden III
Defensive linemen Nyles Gaddy