So, good news and bad news.
Bad News: Based on what I’m looking at K-State has a infinitesimal chance to win this game.
Good News: You could say that about the last two K-State wins over the Sooners.
Scoring Offense vs Scoring Defense (Points Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 28 (73rd)
Oklahoma Defense: 16 (21st)
I wish I had better news for y’all, but we’ve got a matchup between a struggling offense and a solid defense. The only positive spin is that they haven’t played anyone of note on offense. West Virginia might be the best, and they’re not good. At the same time, the Kansas State offense isn’t good.
Best case scenario, K-State cobbles together 21-24 points through a combination of offense, special teams, and defensive scores and hopes Oklahoma continues to inexplicably implode on offense.
Total Offense vs Total Defense (Yards Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 345 (103rd)
Oklahoma Defense: 296 (26th)
Woof, teams that can’t throw the ball tend to struggle in this category, and K-State struggles to throw the ball. It’s tough to rack up consistent yards on the ground against 8-9 man boxes on defense. I still maintain the best path forward for the Wildcats is a run heavy offense paired with an aggressive downfield passing attack. You don’t have to complete a bunch of passes if the ones you complete go for big yardage. It’s clear at this point, that if the Wildcats have to pass to win, they’re going to lose.
3rd Down Conversion Percentage vs 3rd Down Conversion Defense
Kansas State Offense: 34% (102nd)
Oklahoma Defense: 30% (22nd)
Last week submarined this stat for the Wildcats. It has to be better if they want any chance this week. That means winning on first and second down and keeping 3rd downs manageable. They have to hang around enough to lean on their run game. If this game comes down to K-State having to regularly pick up 3rd and 5+, they might lose by 30+.
Rushing Offense vs Rushing Defense (Yards Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 184 (47th)
Oklahoma Defense: 74 (9th)
This is not great. This is skewed by a weak schedule, but Oklahoma, at worst, is competent in run defense and at best elite. The Wildcats have to hope they’re closer to competent. K-State has been able to punish Oklahoma in the past with a misdirection based scheme that catches the aggressive Sooner slanting their defensive line play side and popping big runs on weakside misdirection. Expect to see a heavy dose those runs early in the game.
Passing Offense vs Passing Defense (Yards Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 160 (118th)
Oklahoma Defense: 283 (31st)
Again, I wish this were better, but it’s not. Trying to force a busted passing game is only going to lead to frustration and futility. If Skylar plays (I’ll get to that later) this should improve. If Lewis starts, this should improve. I still think Will Howard might give the Wildcat’s their best chance of winning, and in that case, 160 yards would be considered a solid outing, as long as they come in big chunks and end up in the end zone.
Yards Per Passing Completion vs Yards Allowed Per Completion
Kansas State Offense: 15 (16th)
Oklahoma Defense: 10.5
Seeing K-State towards the top of any passing ratings is jarring. Throwing the ball down the field hasn’t been an issue. Passing efficiency has been the issue. An inefficient, but high yards per completion offense is the way forward. In order for that to work, the run game has to work, despite run stuffing boxes, and whoever is playing quarterback has to make the most of deep opportunities (and as Jon pointed out earlier this week, the wide receivers have to catch the dang ball). These opportunities should be available if the run game is working and the score is close.
Sacks Allowed vs Defensive Sacks (Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 1.5 (31st)
Oklahoma Defense: 3.5 (14th)
Gulp, ok, it’s time for some real talk.
This is one of those times where being a bit of an outsider might give me a little more perspective. If I were coaching this game (and I’m not, for the record) Skylar would sit this one out. If I were a K-State die hard, I would be clamoring for Skylar to play. Oklahoma is already an aggressive defense, and an injured quarterback in a bulky knee brace is blood in the water for a pass rush. Unless that knee is close to 100%, he’s going to be a sitting duck in the pocket.
Part of what makes Skylar a good quarterback is his ability to avoid the rush and complete passes on the move. Another part of the Skylar equation is the ever present threat of him breaking off a big run. If those two things are taken away because of a bum knee, I don’t think he’s the best option at quarterback in this game, and that’s saying something considering the other options.
It’s a long season, and I’m not sure the risk/reward part of the equation in this game is worth not having Skylar for the rest of the year. Another week off, and then a week to shake off the rust post idle week is still my preference.
Sorry y’all, I want to see him play too.
Tackles For Loss Allowed vs Tackles for Loss (Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 5.25 (53rd)
Oklahoma Defense: 5 (42nd)
Tackles for loss are drive killers for the Wildcats. If they get behind the sticks on first and second down, a surprise third down punt may be the best option. The offensive line has to create space for Deuce and Joe. Both are adept at sliding through the small creases in the and making something out of nothing. If Oklahoma hits their 5 TFL average, K-State is in trouble, because that’s 5 sure punts.
Passing Efficiency vs Passing Efficiency Defense
Kansas State Offense: 121 (100th)
Oklahoma Defense: 122 (56th)
I thought Lewis did a respectable(ish) job last week after coming in for a struggling Will Howard in a game that required passing. That said, respectable(ish) isn’t going to get the job done against the Sooners.
If this is a passing game, it’s a blowout Oklahoma win.
Red Zone Offense vs Red Zone Defense (% of Scores Inside the Red Zone)
Kansas State Offense: 98% (32nd) 13 Attempts, 9 Rush TDs, 0 Pass TDS, 3 FGs, 1 Miss
Oklahoma Defense: 77% (44th) 13 Attempts, 4 Rush TDs , 3 Pass TDS, 3 FGs, 3 Stops
Cue Pink Floyd...Run...Run...Run...Run...You better run all day, and run all night. K-State is a great red zone team because they get deep in the red zone with their run game and punch in goal line runs. That’s the formula. They’re not going to get many red zone opportunities and they have to cash in the ones they do get for 7. Any missed red zone opportunity, including field goals, are tough for this team to overcome.
My Take Away
This may be your typical shoddy Oklahoma defense propped up by some terrible opponents, but I think they’re going to be decent. If Skylar plays and is healthy, K-State has a 5-10% chance to win. If Skylar is hurt and plays, K-State has a 0% -2% chance to win. I think they have those same odds with Howard or Lewis. I don’t think Skylar should play.
I wish I had better news to report. After this game, things get easier. They have to survive this thing both physically and mentally. It’s going to take Oklahoma blowing holes in their feet in a slug fest for the Wildcats to win. That’s not out of the realm of possibility, but it’s close to the outer edge of the realm. K-State has Oklahoma’s attention, and the Sooners should be dialed in after their escape last week.
Keep the faith friends and stay safe, this one might be a bit rocky. I’ll be ecstatic if I can come back next week and call myself a pessimistic idiot.