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Kicking the Tires: Oklahoma Sooners

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K-State needs a game to get well. The Oklahoma Sooners are typically not good medicine.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

K-State has lost two straight games after last week’s marathon 26-6 loss to TCU. It would be a good week to get a game with KU. Unfortunately, that waits until next week.

Oklahoma enters this contest fresh off a bounceback win in the Red River Shootout. Texas put in a game effort, but Baker Mayfield found Mark Andrews wide open on a bust in the Texas secondary for the winning score. The Sooners needed the win after a shocking home loss to Iowa State the week before.

K-State could use a win of any kind to get right. But Oklahoma is just about the last team in the world to get right against.

Players to Watch

K-State

Passing: Jesse Ertz, 55-100-3, 930 yards, 9.3 yards/attempt, 7 TDs, 186.0 yards/game

Alex Delton, 13-34-0, 176 yards, 5.2 yards/attempt, 0 TDs, 58.7 yards/game

Rushing: Alex Barnes, 63 carries, 306 yards, 4.9 yards/carry, 2 TDs, 51.0 yards/game

Receiving: Dalton Schoen, 13 receptions, 286 yards, 22.0 yards/game, 3 TDs, 47.7 yards/game

Oklahoma

Passing: Baker Mayfield, 117-161-1, 1,937 yards, 12.0 yards/attempt, 17 TDs, 322.8 yards/game

Rushing: Trey Sermon, 81 carries, 469 yards, 5.8 yards/carry, 3 TDs, 78.2 yards/game

Receiving: Mark Andrews, 23 receptions, 459 yards, 20.0 yards/reception, 3 TDs, 76.5 yards/game

Mayfield in Lincoln Riley’s offense is basically unfair. This will be the ultimate test for our bend-don’t-break defense.

This part is depressing. Let’s get on to the advanced stats.

Advanced Stats

K-State Offense vs. Oklahoma Defense

Just your usual Bill Snyder offense. All explosiveness and no efficiency.

Seriously, K-State currently ranks higher by IsoPPP, both running and passing, than they do by Success Rate. Unless Jesse Ertz is somehow ready to play in this one, K-State’s odds of sustaining scoring drives is nearly zero.

The Wildcats’ best chance is to take advantage of an Oklahoma secondary that’s shown a propensity to bust coverages. That would require our quarterback and receivers actually connecting on open deep passes at some point. Odds don’t favor it unless Ertz plays.

K-State Defense vs. Oklahoma Offense

Oklahoma is both efficient and explosive. So that’s terrifying. And as a coordinator last year, Riley showed an ability to make timely play calls to take advantage of K-State’s defensive tendencies.

Overall, K-State’s defense has been decent this year. Oklahoma will be the best offense they’ve faced this year. Holding them below 40 points would be an accomplishment.

Conclusion

Two other things I noticed. Everyone knows K-State plays slow. The Wildcats are 102nd in Adjusted Pace by S&P. Surprisingly (to me), Oklahoma is 103rd. So maybe the slow pace explains the surprisingly low spread on this game.

Also, K-State holds a decided advantage on OU in most aspects of special teams. But Oklahoma’s kickers have booted touchbacks more than 85 percent of the time this year. It should be windy on Saturday, so at least into the wind DJ Reed should get a chance to return a kick.

So how does K-State win this game? A defensive score is unlikely, given that Mayfield has thrown only one interception in 161 pass attempts. But K-State is better in all aspects of special teams. And the Sooner secondary has been bad, and if K-State has done anything right on offense, they’ve connected on long touchdown passes occasionally.

Like last week, the weather looks atrocious for Saturday. Oklahoma lost at home to Iowa State, which is a loss that will probably look better at the end of the year than it did at the time. But it makes you wonder if first-year head coach Lincoln Riley may still be figuring out how to get his players to bring it every week against teams they think they should beat in their sleep. A rain delay in Manhattan wouldn’t help.

That said, if you’re pinning your hopes on the other team not being up for the game, well, that doesn’t seem great.

Sooners 38, Wildcats 10