Kicking the Tires: Oklahoma Sooners

Players to Watch

K-State

Rushing: John Hubert, 122 carries, 637 yards, 2 TD, 5.2 yards/carry

Passing: Collin Klein, 82-138-3, 934 yards, 8 TD, 6.8 yards/attempt

Receiving: Chris Harper, 26 receptions, 306 yards, 3 TD, 11.8 yards/reception, 43.7 yards/game

Defensive Line: Ray Kibble, 21 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks

Linebacker: Arthur Brown, 53 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT

Secondary: David Garrett, 44 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovered

Oklahoma

Rushing: Dom Whaley, 113 carries, 627 yards, 9 TD, 5.5 yards/carry

Passing: Landry Jones, 201-308-7, 2,589 yards, 21 TD, 8.4 yards/attempt

Receiving: Ryan Broyles, 67 receptions, 889 yards, 9 TD, 13.4 yards/reception, 128.4 yards/game

Defensive Line: Frank Alexander, 36 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovered

Linebacker: Travis Lewis, 51 tackles, 2.0 TFL

Secondary: Aaron Colvin, 47 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery

Dear Frank Alexander: Please don't kill any of our players. Dear K-State offensive line: Please block Mr. Alexander.

With Oklahoma being such a national name, its star players don't need much introduction. Landry Jones is carving up defenses again this year, although he's been a little less spectacular in his last two games, completing only 54.5 percent of his passes and throwing a pick in the loss against Texas Tech, and 60.4 percent with a pick against KU. He also fell short of his season average for yards per attempt in both games.

Keep in mind that Oklahoma was missing several key players against Texas Tech. Dom Whaley, who you'll notice above is Oklahoma's leading rusher (and a good story, too), did not play against the Red Raiders, and Oklahoma's rushing game suffered for it, gaining only 124 yards in the game. Bob Stoops said he was sick, so presumably he will be back Saturday. The Sooners were really hurt on defense, missing Casey Walker (DL), Tom Wort (LB), and Jamell Fleming (DB) against Texas Tech. That's two top-10 tacklers on the team. It sounds like Wort will be back, but if Fleming is still out, K-State will have a mark to pick on in the secondary. Backup defensive back Gabe Lynn was abused by Texas Tech. Definitely wouldn't mind seeing Chris Harper or Tyler Lockett get a few chances against Lynn.

Team Statistics (from CFBStats.com)

Rushing Offense

K-State: 19th nationally, 213.86 yards/game

Oklahoma: 52nd, 166.57 yards/game

Passing Offense

K-State: 110th, 140.9 yards/game

Oklahoma: 4th, 379.0 yards/game

Total Offense

K-State: 89th, 354.7 yards/game

Oklahoma: 4th, 545.6 yards/game

Rushing Defense

K-State: 13th, 93.86 yards/game

Oklahoma: 27th, 116.57 yards/game

Pass Efficiency Defense

K-State: 52nd

Oklahoma: 24th

Total Defense

K-State: 30th, 337.1 yards/game

Oklahoma: 41st, 353.6 yards/game

So much to dive into here.

While Oklahoma isn't great at anything defensively, they're plenty solid. With the exception of Kent State, they will be the best in total defense K-State has faced this year. And Kent State's prowess on defense may be due as much to the quality of teams they are facing than anything, Alabama notwithstanding.

An interesting question was posed on the site this week regarding the frustration of K-State's opponents after losses. I think it was Morse said he believes K-State has held each of its opponents below their season average in total yards. In fact, two of K-State's opponents during that stretch have exceeded their season averages. Miami gained 411 yards, against a season average coming into that game of 365, and Texas Tech went for 580 after averaging 524 coming in. But everyone else, including Baylor (594/429), Missouri (517/326), and KU (452/286). Interesting that when K-State has held teams below their season average, it has done so by an average of 174 yards per game.

OK, time to take a look at the hidden-yardage stats, to see if Oklahoma will be able to take away what K-State uses to equalize the playing field against more-talented but less-disciplined teams.

Turnover Margin

K-State: 10th, +8

Oklahoma: 45th, +2

Penalties

K-State: 35th, 45.3 yards/game

Oklahoma: 21st, 41.1 yards/game

Third-Down Conversions

K-State: 24th, 48.11 percent

Oklahoma: 49th, 43.69 percent

Red-Zone Conversions

K-State: 37th, 86.84 percent

Oklahoma: 24th, 89.84 percent

Time of Possession

K-State: 1st, 34:50

Oklahoma: 77th, 28:56

Overall, OU holds its own, but K-State holds the upper hand in most of these categories. Oklahoma has turned the ball over 13 times this season, or almost twice per game. If the Sooners do that again Saturday, they will play their part of the script.

Of course, that assumes that the script holds. I almost hesitate to bring this up, but whether I mention it or not has no bearing on how the players play on the field. K-State has fumbled the ball 14 times this season, but have only lost four of them. If you assume that an oddly shaped ball will bounce randomly and that the odds of recovering a fumble are approximately 50/50, then the Wildcats are a few ahead of the game. There's never a good time for turnovers, but Saturday would be a particularly bad time to regress to the mean. On top of that, Klein has made a few poor throws this season that could have been interceptions. You all jumped on me when I called that pass to Harper a dead duck, but when I rewatched the game, that ball was wobbling like a college student on his way home from Aggieville. Fortunately, we had KU's crappy defense out there and we got a pass interference penalty. Oklahoma may very well turn that type of throw into an interception.

So, where does all that put us? I expect to see a tough game that is up for grabs to the very end. Over the course of this season, we've bemoaned the poor starts and occasional poor series by the offense, while noting that when it catches fire this offense is capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Expect to see a few more of those against a defense as good as Oklahoma's. It will be very, very important for K-State to avoid turnovers and three-and-outs. Given the season stats in turnover margin and third-down conversions, you have to feel like they'll be able to do that. On defense, getting in Landry Jones' face early and often is a must. If we can knock him off rhythm and prevent his receivers from having even the chance to make plays, good things will follow.

Alas, pessimistic TB has returned. While I think this game will be close all the way through, I can't shake the feeling that Sooner Magic will rear its ugly head and steal this one from us in Manhattan. The Sooners get a late field goal to win, 34-31.

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