This is the face of your nightmares, Chris Cosh. One of them, anyway. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Fresh off a 41-point loss to one school from the State of Oklahoma, K-State has to regroup to face another Okie school. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, this is the stronger version. And the game is on the road.
You'll see the stats below, but Oklahoma State is scary in just about every way imaginable. They can run, they can really throw, and while they give up a lot of yards, they don't give up a lot of points and they force turnovers. Did I mention that K-State has only once -- against KU, or course -- scored as many points in a single game as the Pokes average per game?Players to Watch
Rushing: John Hubert, 134 carries, 708 yards, 5.3 yards/carry, 2 TD, 88.5 yards/game
Passing: Collin Klein, 90-154-3, 992 yards, 8 TD, 6.4 yards/attempt, 124 yards/game
Receiving: Chris Harper, 28 receptions, 320 yards, 11.4 yards/reception, 3 TD, 40 yards/game
Defensive Line: Ray Kibble, 23 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks
Linebackers: Arthur Brown, 60 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT
Secondary: David Garrett, 51 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 2 INT
Rushing: Joseph Randle, 135 carries, 842 yards, 6.2 yards/carry, 16 TD, 105.2 yards/game
Passing: Brandon Weeden, 246-345-7, 2,710 yards, 22 TD, 7.9 yards/attempt, 338.8 yards/game
Receiving: Justin Blackmon, 74 receptions, 834 yards, 11.3 yards/reception, 104.2 yards/game
Defensive Line: Richetti Jones, 22 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT
Linebackers: Caleb Lavey, 50 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 1 INT
Secondary: Daytawion Lowe, 58 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT
Oklahoma State's offensive balance is incredible. The Pokes have thrown the ball 372 times against 270 runs (382/260 if you factor in sacks). So you can't load up on the run without getting burned by Weeden and Blackmon, among others, and you can't load the box and man up on the outside. Not that we would anyway, of course. Even worse, Oklahoma State has only allowed 10 sacks on the season, which is tied for 25th nationally. Bringing pressure isn't likely to result in a sack, and few quarterbacks are better than Weeden at beating the blitz.
I hesitate to even mention this, because it's easy to dismiss as a nonfactor, but it's supposed to be windy in Stillwater on Saturday. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's always windy on the Great Plains. But it's supposed to be really windy, with sustained winds of at least 20 miles per hour and gusts above 40 mph. Of course, by the time the game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. on the last day of Daylight Savings Time, the wind will probably have tapered off some.
Team Statistics (from CFBStats.com)
K-State: 209.9 yards/game, 20th nationally
Oklahoma State: 181.9 yards/game, 41st
K-State: 130.5 yards/game, 113th
Oklahoma State: 373.3 yards/game, 4th
K-State: 340.4 yards/game, 93rd
Oklahoma State: 555.1 yards/game, 4th
K-State: 103.4 yards/game, 16th
Oklahoma State: 185.5 yards/game, 84th
Pass Efficiency Defense
Oklahoma State: 25th
K-State: 381.3 yards/game, 59th
Oklahoma State: 455.6 yards/game, 110th
The good news? Oklahoma State gives up a lot of yards, and isn't particularly good against the run, which is K-State's offensive strength. Even better, K-State is very good at avoiding turnovers, which is what the Pokes thrive on. If K-State can establish the run and protect the ball, then the Wildcats will have a chance to hang with the Cowboys on Saturday.
But Oklahoma State's offense is going to be a nightmare for K-State's defense. I talked with a good friend today who played football, and he confirmed that K-State played 100 percent zone against Oklahoma. He thinks Chris Cosh should at least try some man-to-man defense, giving Nigel Malone the chance to jam opposing receivers at the line. Of course, the fear is that tall receivers, like Blackmon, will burn that type of coverage on fade and jump-ball routes given that Malone is only 5'10" and David Garrett is only listed at 5'8".
One thing we agreed on is that Arthur Brown has to get better in pass coverage. Keep an eye on him Saturday. Against the spread offenses in the Big 12, he's often pulled out of the middle of the field. The instincts that make him a good linebacker against the run hurt him in pass coverage, as he tends to get out of position in his zone because his instincts tell him to play a man.
So K-State has a chance to control the ball against Okie State, but things likely aren't going to go well when the Cats are on defense. What about the hidden-yardage stats? Glad you asked.
K-State: +9, 8th nationally
Oklahoma State: +19, 1st
K-State: 44.0 yards/game, 31st
Oklahoma State: 58.1 yards/game, 83rd
K-State: 46.2 percent, 31st
Oklahoma State: 52.0 percent, 5th
K-State: 85 percent, 40th
Oklahoma State: 89.1 percent, 22nd
Time of Possession
K-State: 34:23, 3rd
Oklahoma State: 27:14, 112th
It's no surprise that the huge differential is in time of possession. Like the other quick-strike offenses in the Big 12, Oklahoma State does not excel at holding on to the ball. But when you score 49.9 points per game, that's not a big deal. Through eight games, Oklahoma State has forced 29 turnovers, which is kind of a lot, but eight games is kind of a lot to call that a fluke. And when you have 29 takeaways, you can afford a fair amount of giveaways and still lead the country in turnover margin. Oklahoma State is turning the ball over more than once per game, and Weeden is throwing almost one interception per game on average. As usual, turnovers will be huge in this game. If K-State can take care of the ball and force a few turnovers, then the Wildcats have a chance to hang around. Wait, did I write that sentence already?
Because it seems like I'm repeating myself now, it must be time to wrap up this post. Writing this post has given me reasons to hope, but the hope is only that K-State is going to keep this game close, or maybe even just respectable. I hate to say that, because it sounds disrespectful to the players, who are busting their ass all week and trying to win every game. But beating Okie State would be a monumental accomplishment. K-State loses its second straight, 47-31.