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KICKING THE TIRES: The University of Oklahoma

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Kansas State Wildcats (5-3 | 3-1) VS. No. 22 Oklahoma Sooners (4-3 | 2-1)

The Norman Conquest
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium - Norman, Okla.
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 - 6 PM CST

FSN

 

A tough task awaits this week. By statistical fluke, we actually possess a better overall and Big 12 record than the Oklahoma Sooners, but we're going to have to play a solid — and lucky — game to keep it that way Saturday night.

The Sooners have forced at least two turnovers in each game this season and have forced at least three four times. And Bob Stoops has only lost two home games during his entire tenure at OU — and neither of them were to North teams.

Click the jump for my usual statistical/opinionated analysis. For more detailed information, see Crimson And Cream Machine.

KEY PLAYERS

 

K-State

Passing
Grant Gregory (42 of 68, 491 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT)

Receiving
Brandon Banks (33 catches, 368 yards, 1 TD)

Rushing
Daniel Thomas (165 carries, 814 yards, 9 TD)

Wild Card
Emmanuel Lamur (41 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 1 FR)

 

OU

Passing
Landry Jones (117 of 192, 1,363 yards, 13 TD, 6 INT)

Receiving
Ryan Broyles (36 catches, 500 yards, 8 TD)

Rushing
Chris Brown (105 carries, 427 yards, 5 TD)

Wild Card
DeMarco Murray (84 catches, 403 yards, 3 TD)

 

KEY STATS

Rushing Offense
K-State (25 | +8) > OU (65)

Passing Offense
OU (20) > K-State (104 | -9)

Total Offense
OU (29) > K-State (74 | -5)

Scoring Offense
OU (24) > K-State (64 | -6)

Rushing Defense
OU (3) > K-State (19 | +7)

Pass Efficiency Defense
OU (12) > K-State (51 | +17)

Total Defense
OU (6) > K-State (39 | +8)

Scoring Defense
OU (2) > K-State (46 | +17)

Net Punting
OU (24) > K-State (92 | -3)

Punt Returns
OU (13) > K-State (42 | -11)

Kickoff Returns
K-State (5 | +2) > OU (76)

Turnover Margin
K-State (14 | +10) > OU (26)

Pass Defense
OU (36) > K-State (74 | +7)

Passing Efficiency
OU (40) > K-State (67 | -12)

 

Analysis

Well, as much as I hate to admit it, Oklahoma clearly outclasses us in most categories, despite not being a particularly impressive team on offense or special teams. Our one distinct advantage is in running the ball, something the Sooners seemed to have abandoned trying altogether. Unfortunately, it will be strength against strength, because Daniel Thomas will have to run straight into the teeth of the Oklahoma run defense, led by Gerald McCoy.

On offense, Oklahoma isn't particularly proficient at passing, either, but they're passably decent and Ryan Broyles is a deadly threat every time he catches the ball, just like Brandon Banks. I think our secondary will do a decent job on them, but Landry Jones is a pretty decent quarterback — he just has crappy receivers who can't catch the ball. If our offense doesn't do its part to keep theirs off the field, it will end up being a long day, most likely.

That leaves the onus on special teams. We absolutely have to break a big play for a touchdown, and maybe two — whether on kick returns, punt returns or punt blocks. I don't see any other way to keep up with OU's offense given our own ineptitude in the passing game of late.

As usual, field position and turnovers will be key, because we will need to play the same keep-away game we've honed all season. I'm worried, since Oklahoma has a significant advantage in both net punting and punt returns, and isn't far behind us in turnover margin.

On paper, this is the second-worst matchup of the season. But games aren't played on paper. I'm optimistic enough to say the Cats will play well enough defensively, in what should be a fairly defensive game, to beat the 25-point spread.

Beating the Sooners, on the other hand, is a trickier proposition. It will require turnovers, big plays from Brandon Banks, some big-time open-field runs from Daniel Thomas and a superb passing day from Grant Gregory, as well as a ton of luck. I just don't see it happening.

As usual, we will need to score at least 20 points to secure the win, as we have done in all five previous victories. But that might not even be enough to escape Norman with a W.

Prediction: Oklahoma 29, Kansas State 17

 

BracketCat's Projected Starters

QB: Grant Gregory
FB: Braden Wilson*
RB: Daniel Thomas

WR: Brandon Banks, Lamark Brown, Attrail Snipes**
TE: Jeron Mastrud
OL: Nick Stringer, Zach Kendall, Wade Weibert, Kenneth Mayfield, Clyde Aufner

DL: Prizell Brown, Daniel Calvin, Antonio Felder, Jeffrey Fitzgerald
LB: John Houlik, Ulla Pomele
DB: Troy Butler, Stephen Harrison, Tysyn Hartman, Emmanuel Lamur, Joshua Moore

*if we start with a fullback and two wide receivers
**if we start with three wide receivers and no fullback

 

Elsewhere in the Big 12...

Nothing has been as predicted this season, so while I am sure everyone expects Nebraska to get out of Waco with a win while scoring only 10 points, I'm going to go ahead and say it will be more of a shootout than that. It's just been that kind of year.

Likewise, everyone thinks Kansas at Texas Tech will be a shootout... so I'm expecting a defensive struggle.

I think Mizzou and Texas A&M barely will squeak out wins, but would either Colorado or Iowa State winning surprise you all that much?

And in the big game, I expect Texas to survive their biggest challenge after learning from last year's debacle in Lubbock. Oklahoma State has lost too many pieces they expected to have to pull this off.

 

Nebraska at Baylor (Versus)
Huskers 30, Bears 25

Missouri at Colorado (FSN)
Tigers 30, Buffaloes 28

Kansas at Texas Tech (ABC)
Red Raiders 25, Jayhawks 21

Iowa State at Texas A&M
Aggies 27, Cyclones 26

#3 Texas at #13 Oklahoma State (ABC)
Longhorns 17, Cowboys 14

 

All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.