You don't seriously think K-State can win, do you? (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
It's back! Up until a year ago, I was
always usually good for a completely unscientific (hence, "kicking the tires") preview of each weekend's action. Presumably, most of you are here because you are interested in K-State sports, and thus are interested in game previews, although I wouldn't rule out the possibility that you may just be big fans of Pan's dick-and-fart jokes Adventures of the Big 12.
Anyway, K-State faces what was supposed to be its first big challenge of the season, but will actually be its second after the mighty Eastern Kentucky Colonels jumped up and nearly stole a win in Manhattan three weeks ago. Miami came into the season reeling from the most outstanding scandal we've ever seen alleged in college football. With eight players suspended, the Hurricanes took Maryland to the wire in College Park, losing 32-24 to the garishly clad Terrapins.
After a week to regroup and get some of its suspended players back, including starting quarterback Jacory Harris, Miami blitzed an Ohio State University at Sun Life Stadium for a 24-6 victory. The Hurricane defense was fierce in this one, limiting the Buckeyes to four completed passes for 35 yards on the game. With that kind of film available to Bill Snyder, Collin Klein may not attempt four passes on Saturday.
Hit the jump for a statistical look at both teams.
Players to Watch
Passing: (7) Collin Klein, 22-39, 202 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 101.0 yards/game
Rushing: (33) John Hubert, 26 carries, 120 yards, 0 TD, 60.0 yards/game
Receiving: (3) Chris Harper, 8 catches, 99 yards, 1 TD, 49.5 yards/game
-- (4) Arthur Brown (LB): 19 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks
-- (12) Ty Zimmerman (DB): 13 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 pass defended
-- (95) Ray Kibble (DL): 7 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks
Passing: (12) Jacory Harris, 16-23, 123 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 123.0 yards per game
Rushing: (6) Lamar Miller, 44 carries, 303 yards, 1 TD, 151.5 yards/game
Receiving: (1) Allen Hurns, 10 catches, 123 yards, 2 TDs, 61.5 yards/game
-- (45) Ramon Buchanan (LB): 13 tackles, 2.0 TFL
-- (7) Vaughn Telemaque (DB): 11 tackles, 1 INT
-- (98) Darius Smith (DL): 5 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks
As a note, I'm listing the top tackler at each level of both teams' defenses. Miami's top two tacklers are linebackers, which is a good sign for the Hurricanes. The bad sign? Their top tackler among defensive linemen ranks 13th on the team in tackles, and the Hurricanes only have two sacks on the (admittedly young) season. The Hurricanes don't seem to be getting much pressure on the quarterback and aren't throwing opponents for losses at a remarkable rate. Remember, though, Miami hasn't played EKU and Kent State. The Hurricanes have played an ACC road game against Maryland and been the host to Ohio State.
On offense, Jacory Harris is what he's always been, which is a potentially electrifying player who seems all too happy to give the ball to the other team once or twice (or more) per game. David Garrett, Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman need to be ready to make some players, because Harris will force throws.
Also, on the K-State stats, obviously Klein is, by far, our leading rusher, but I like to list the running backs in the rushing category.
Team Statistics (stats from NCAAFootball.com)
K-State: 35th, 197.0 yards/game
Miami: 34th, 206.0 yards/game
K-State: 115th, 122.0 yards/game
Miami: 102nd, 159.0 yards/game
K-State:97th, 319.0 yards/game
Miami: 80th, 365.0 yards/game
K-State: 8th, 64.0 yards/game
Miami: 81st, 162.5 yards/game
Pass Efficiency Defense
K-State: 1st, 58.76 rating, 200 yards
Miami: 30th, 107.26 rating, 383 yards
K-State: 1st, 164.0 yards/game
Miami: 57th, 354.0 yards/game
Keep in mind when viewing these stats the disparity in schedule difficulty the teams have faced. K-State has seen an FCS team and a well-below-average Kent State team. Meanwhile, Miami has played a conference road game -- granted, it was against a Maryland squad chosen to finish last in the Atlantic Division of the ACC -- and newly minted enigma Ohio State. The Buckeyes shutout Akron, 42-0, in its opener before struggling against Toledo, narrowly pulling out a victory over the
Mud Hens Rockets. For its part, Maryland is now 0-2 after a narrow loss to Big East favorite West Virginia.
In any event, K-State's offensive "strengths," to the extent it has any, match up nicely with Miami's strengths and weaknesses. As expected, Snyder and Dana Dimel have relied heavily on the running game, and even more heavily on Klein in that running game. Miami's defensive weakness is clearly stopping the run. If nothing else, you can bet on K-State keeping the ball on the ground at least 60 percent of the time on Saturday. I wouldn't be shocked to see one of the running backs take a few snaps in the Wildcat formation.
It is interesting to note that, despite the stellar pass-defense performance Miami displayed against Ohio State, the Hurricanes gave up more than 300 yards passing to Maryland. Keep in mind that Ohio State is as conservative as Rush Limbaugh offensively, and are breaking in a new quarterback, too. So while I'm not expecting a ton of tosses from Klein, and I'm even less confident in the chances of those passes connecting with regularity, it's still too early to anoint Miami as the greatest pass defense ever, gaudy numbers against Ohio State notwithstanding.
Neither team has lit up the scoreboard this season, with K-State averaging only 23.5 points/game, while Miami has scored 24 in both contests thus far. My guess is that this will be a fairly low-scoring affair. As a result, we'll probably think K-State is closer to pulling off the victory than it actually is most of the game as the Cats trail by a field goal or touchdown most of the game before losing by nine, 30-21.