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KICKING THE TIRES: Oklahoma State University


Kansas State Wildcats (5-2 | 2-2) VS. #17 Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-1 | 2-1)

Bill Snyder Family Stadium — Manhattan, Kan.
Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 — 11:10 AM CST


Our second chance to become bowl eligible is upon us, but unfortunately, it's against a team even more offensively potent than Baylor. Worse, said team's offensive coordinator is a disciple of Capt. Mike Leach, progenitor of a spread attack that's long been known as Bill Snyder's Kryptonite.

If I had Coach's ear and we won the coin toss, I'd counsel him to eschew his usual choice of deferring and take the ball first instead. We need to start the game up 7-0, not down 0-7, or the crowd will be out of it quick.

Either William Powell takes another one to the house or the offense drives and scores, but let's not throw the defense to the wolves to start the game.

I'd also suggest, if the defense looks as shaky on its first few series as it has most of the season, that we consider not punting very often. If OSU's going to score on pretty much every possession, what's the point of wasting 25 percent of our opportunities to convert first downs?

Might as well go for it. If you fail, it just means you get the ball back quicker.

More analysis, backed by some really scary numbers, after the jump.

Key Players

Kansas State

Carson Coffman (95 of 143, 1,145 yards, 8 TD, 4 INT)

Aubrey Quarles (24 catches, 375 yards, 3 TD)

Daniel Thomas (167 carries, 895 yards, 9 TD)

Wild Cards
David Garrett (45 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FF, 2 FR)
Brandon Harold (32 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 FF, 1 FR)
Chris Harper (10 catches, 141 yards, 1 TD)
Alex Hrebec (64 tackles, 1 TFL, 7 PBU)
William Powell (20 carries, 214 yards, 2 TD, 34.1 yards per KR)
Terrance Sweeney (30 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FF)

Oklahoma State

Brandon Weeden (173 of 260, 2,249 yards, 21 TD, 9 INT)

Justin Blackmon (62 catches, 1,112 yards, 14 TD)

Kendall Hunter (161 carries, 1,031 yards, 12 TD)

Wild Cards
Brodrick Brown (39 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
Ugo Chinasa (18 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Josh Cooper (36 catches, 400 yards, 1 TD)
Orie Lemon (69 tackles, 6 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, 2 FR)
Markelle Martin (31 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 7 PBU)
Andrew McGee (25 tackles, 1 TFL, 3 INT, 1 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Joseph Randle (50 carries, 246 yards, 1 TD)

Key Stats

Rushing Offense
K-State (24 | -8) > O-State (34)

Passing Offense
O-State (3) > K-State (88 | +14)

Total Offense
O-State (3) > K-State (60 | -1)

Scoring Offense
O-State (2) > K-State (30 | +7)

Rushing Defense
O-State (47) > K-State (118 | -3)

Pass Efficiency Defense
K-State (36 | -27) > O-State (76)

Total Defense
O-State (97) > K-State (100 | -19)

Scoring Defense
K-State (67 | -18) > O-State (89)

Net Punting
O-State (2) > K-State (18 | +9)

Punt Returns
O-State (33) > K-State (68)

Kickoff Returns
K-State (1 | +2) > O-State (61)

Turnover Margin
O-State (23) > K-State (37 | -2)

Pass Defense
K-State (38 | -26) > O-State (115)

Passing Efficiency
O-State (13) > K-State (26 | +1)


As I see it, there are four key match-ups in the game:

  1. How will K-State's 118th-ranked rushing defense fare against Oklahoma State's 34th-ranked rushing offense? Is there any way on Earth we can hold Kendall Hunter under 200 yards of rushing?
  2. How will OSU's 119th-ranked kickoff coverage team do against K-State's No. 1 kickoff return team? Can William Powell break a big return for a touchdown in the second consecutive game?
  3. How will K-State's 88th-ranked passing offense (a number skewed by our preference to run the ball) fare against OSU's 115th-ranked pass defense? Can Carson Coffman continue his strong play, despite losing his top two receivers, and keep the Pokes defense off Daniel Thomas' back?
  4. Is K-State's 36th-ranked pass efficiency defense as good as we thought earlier in the season, or will Oklahoma State's 3rd-ranked passing offense further expose the unit in the same way Robert Griffin III did a week ago?

Those all are interesting areas to keep an eye on, but in a game that will have quite a few possessions, what's most important is maximizing your opportunities. In other words, not turning the ball over, thus costing yourself valuable drives while handing your opponent more opportunities of his own.

Both teams have been pretty good in turnover margin. Neither is particularly adept at forcing turnovers. I'm hopeful that home-field advantage could aid us in securing a narrow edge over the Cowboys in both areas, but the early start and last week's loss could conspire to negate the crowd's energy somewhat.

Punting isn't a consideration, at least from our end, because Oklahoma State rarely has to punt. Hell, they may not punt all day. And if K-State has to punt more than a handful of times, we're screwed. How much punt return yardage we allow OSU to rack up is the least of my concerns.

The other X-factor is the kicking game. Oklahoma State has one of the best kickers in the nation, and he's already made one game-winner this season (Texas A&M). Not only do we need to score on the first possession, but we really need to keep OSU from getting the ball on their last possession and crossing the 50. That could be trouble.

K-State probably has too many glaring weaknesses to expect to win, but Oklahoma State has enough flaws that we should be able to keep pace with them and hope for a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. If we can do that, we'll have a decent chance to win thanks to superior coaching (except on the defensive side, of course).

But we'll most likely find ourselves on the losing end of yet another shootout. This is just a terrible match-up for an already beleaguered defense and I'm not convinced our offense can be consistent enough to keep up in a track meet without Brodrick Smith and, more importantly, Tramaine Thompson. Please, Cats, prove me wrong.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 41, Kansas State 40

BracketCat's Projected Starters

QB: Carson Coffman
FB: Braden Wilson
RB: Daniel Thomas

WR: Chris Harper, Aubrey Quarles
TE: Travis Tannahill
OL: Manase Foketi, Zach Kendall, Wade Weibert, Kenneth Mayfield, Clyde Aufner

DL: Antonio Felder, Raphael Guidry, Prizell Brown, Brandon Harold
LB: Jarell Childs, Alex Hrebec
DB: David Garrett, Stephen Harrison, Ty Zimmerman, Tysyn Hartman, Terrance Sweeney

KOS: Anthony Cantele
PK: Josh Cherry
P: Ryan Doerr

KR: William Powell
PR: Tramaine Thompson

Elsewhere in the Big 12...

I think my predicted scores pretty much speak for themselves. I like the home teams to win, except for that Big Red baby fan base that boos injured players and pressures its players into a 1-10 record as a home favorite in its last 11 tries. M-I-Z! Z-O-U!

Not much point in any other write-ups, really. I'm usually wrong about half the games anyway,

Kansas at Iowa State
Cyclones 43, Jayhawks 21

#6 Missouri at #14 Nebraska (ABC)
Tigers 31, Cornhuskers 30

Texas Tech at Texas A&M
Aggies 41, Red Raiders 37

#25 Baylor at Texas (FSN)
Longhorns 27, Bears 26

Colorado at #9 Oklahoma (ESPN2)
Sooners 46, Buffaloes 7

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