Everything is right in the Kansas State football universe once again. The ‘Cats head into Saturday’s match-up against the Houston looking to continue their running game rampage. Meanwhile, the Cougars are coming off a loss to Texas where they managed 14 rushing yards... total. I would say we have a classic cross-matchup of styles, but I need to refer back to the title of the article.
In terms of conflicts in literature, if you’re writing about college football you’re normally dealing with the “man vs. man” conflict. Occasionally, you get a team like Clemson, and then it’s “man vs. man” and “man vs. himself” because no one is better at beating the Tigers than the Tigers, but I digress out of frustration. On Saturday afternoon, Houston will not only be facing a daunting “man vs. man” conflict but “man vs. the elements” is getting thrown into the mix as well. The heat-loving Cougars from Texas are about to get introduced to a Midwestern cold snap, including gusting winds and a “wintery mix”.
Trust me, folks, I moved to Manhattan after spending seven years in College Station, Texas. Houston, no matter what they say, is not prepared for the weather on Saturday. To make things worse, they can’t run the ball. Their lead back is averaging 2.5 yards a carry. Meanwhile, Kansas State looks like the mid-’80s Washington Redskins. This things could get ugly.
The caveat I need to include is turnovers.
The only way forward that I see for Houston in this game is turnovers. The weather affects both teams, and even though the Wildcats are more acclimated to elements, it doesn’t make the ball any less slick. Ball security between Johnson, Howard, Ward, and Giddens will be paramount. As long as they hold onto the ball, the Prime Kansas State beef on the line should be able to win this game on their own.
That’s sort of where I am on this game.
It’s tough to write a more in-depth preview because I don’t think Houston can do what they want to do on offense because of the weather conditions. If they come out and throw the ball 46 times, like they did against Texas, they’ll lose by 50. They’ve got a solid passing attack, but I don’t think they can pull it off in steadily deteriorating weather and 15-mile-an-hour winds. They’ve shown no interest in running the ball thus far but I doubt they’ll have much of a choice. I doubt Houston has enough to overcome Kansas State at home. I seriously doubt they have enough to overcome Kansas State and Mother Nature working in tandem to slow down their offense.
If this game were being played in pristine conditions, I would still take Kansas State, but it would be a much harder choice. The Cougars do some things in their passing offense that the Wildcats struggle to cover. I could see Dana Holgerson getting into a rhythm in his play-calling and terrorizing the Kansas State with the short passing game, but not in this weather. This game will be won in the trenches, and that’s where K-State has a decided advantage.
As I mentioned above, for the ‘Cats, it’s all about ball security. Win the turnover battle and win the game. Tie the turnover battle and win the game. Lose the turnover battle by one and win the game. Lose it by two and it’ll be close. Lose it by three and Houston wins. That means Avery Johnson and Treshaun Ward will need to be extra secure with the ball. This is Avery’s first college game in these conditions (granted, he’s from Kansas, this won’t be anything new) and Ward is out of Tampa and transferred in from Florida State. You don’t see these conditions in the ACC outside of a random late-season game against Boston College. He’ll need to get both hands on the ball when he’s in traffic because I expect the defense to be punching and ripping at the ball all game.
That’s about it for this one. I like the Wildcats before the weather report, and I like them even more after the weather report. If you’re heading to the game, for the love of all that is holy, bundle up, it’s going to be a nasty one and I still haven’t 100% thawed out from my experience at Bill Snyder’s last home game.