Kicking the Tires: K-State vs. Oklahoma

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Now bowl eligible after a near catastrophe against Texas Christian, K-State looks to continue its four-game winning streak. Standing in the way is an old nemesis: Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners.

It wasn't pretty last week, but K-State got a 33-31 win over Texas Christian. More importantly, the Wildcats got their sixth win on the season, and will play in a bowl game this December. And get an extra 20 practices or so for their efforts.

After beating TCU, K-State remains at home to face 8-2 Oklahoma. It's strange to think that OU is 8-2 this season, given how down on the Sooners a lot of people are. I guess that's what happens when you have the level of expectations the Sooners have. And when you factor in that Oklahoma has a tough road test in Manhattan this weekend visits Stillwater next weekend, well, 8-4 isn't so far-fetched. But K-State has to do its part this weekend to get help them get there.

Players to Watch

K-State

Passing: Jake Waters, 111-183-6, 1,690 yards, 10 TDs, 9.2 yards/attempt, 169.0 yards/game

Rushing: John Hubert, 143 carries, 731 yards, 5.1 yards/carry, 8 TDs, 73.1 yards/game

Receiving: Tyler Lockett, 56 receptions, 825 yards, 14.7 yards/reception, 5 TDs, 91.7 yards/game

Oklahoma

Passing: Trevor Knight, 30-63-3, 272 yards, 4 TDs, 4.3 yards/attempt, 54.4 yards/game

Rushing: Brennan Clay, 103 carries, 643 yards, 6.2 yards/carry, 4 TDs, 64.3 yards/game

Receiving: Jalen Saunders, 44 receptions, 520 yards, 11.8 yards/reception, 5 TDs, 52.0 yards/game

Knight's passing numbers are almost comically bad, but maybe not terribly surprising given that he's a redshirt freshman. With weapons like Brennan Clay, Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard around him, the Oklahoma offense can always be dangerous. But can they be consistent? We'll see more below with the advanced statistics, but with Knight at quarterback, it seems unlikely.

While I note his passing struggles, bear in mind that Knight has 37 carries for 309 yards on the season. That's 8.4 yards per carry, even unadjusted for sacks. K-State's front seven better be ready to roll on Saturday, because Oklahoma is averaging more than 230 rushing yards per game.

K-State Advanced Stats

F/+: 24th nationally

Offensive S&P+: 14th

Rushing S&P+: 15th

Passing S&P+: 17th

Drive Efficiency: 15th

Standard Downs S&P+: 12th

Passing Downs S&P+: 29th

Defensive S&P+: 39th

Rushing S&P+: 79th

Passing S&P+: 27th

Drive Efficiency: 40th

Standard Downs S&P+: 60th

Passing Downs S&P+: 17th

Special Teams F/+: 5th

Oklahoma Advanced Stats

F/+: 30th

Offensive S&P+: 29th

Rushing S&P+: 31st

Passing S&P+: 47th

Drive Efficiency: 23rd

Standard Downs S&P+: 28th

Passing Downs S&P+: 64th

Defensive S&P+: 30th

Rushing S&P+: 80th

Passing S&P+: 10th

Drive Efficiency: 32nd

Standard Downs S&P+: 40th

Passing Downs S&P+: 15th

Special Teams F/+: 31st

So, you want a reason to hope? K-State is excellent offensively when it's in Standard Downs and at running the football. Oklahoma is only a little better than average on Standard Downs, and noticeably below average against the run.

Now, are you looking for a reason to temper those expectations? Of course you are! K-State is below average against the run, and Oklahoma is better than average running the ball. It's one thing to give up some easy completions to prevent bigger plays. It's quite another to just allow six or seven yards per carry. Oklahoma is also better than average defensively on Standard Downs, and is superior on Passing Downs. If the Sooner defense can keep K-State off schedule, it will be a miserable day in Manhattan.

As usual, K-State holds a significant advantage in special teams, so it's always possible that a return by Tyler Lockett or Tramaine Thompson could flip field position or result in a score. On the other side, Oklahoma is very good in Drive Efficiency, so they may finish drives better than most against K-State's bend-but-don't-break defense.

Conclusion: Let's just all be happy that we don't need this game for bowl eligibility. The Sooners are not the same fearsome outfit we're used to seeing in Norman, but they're not a bunch of clowns, either. K-State really needs to stuff the Sooners' rushing attack and put this game squarely on Knight's shoulders. I'll take my chances with a redshirt freshman in Manhattan, on a cold senior day. Whether K-State can do that or not remains unknown, but I think the Wildcats do just enough to get a win.

K-State 31, Oklahoma 27

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