Manhattan, KS (SportsNetwork.com) – The 11th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats
continue their quest for the Big 12 Conference crown, as they play host to the
Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday night.
Oklahoma State dropped a narrow decision to defending national champion
Florida State (37-31) in the season opener, and then went on a five-game win
streak. Coach Mike Gundy’s squad won its first three conference bouts, but has
since lost two in a row in blowout fashion, falling at TCU (42-9) and to
visiting West Virginia (34-10). The Cowboys need one more win to gain bowl
eligibility, but doing so won’t be easy as their final four games are against
K-State, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma — three of which take place on the road.
Kansas State is the only team in the Big 12 yet to suffer a league loss,
giving coach Bill Snyder’s club the inside track to the conference title
should they win out. Doing so of course won’t be a cakewalk, as the Wildcats
have bouts with TCU, West Virginia and Baylor remaining. A narrow home loss to
Auburn (20-14) is the only blemish on an otherwise sparkling resume’ for the
Wildcats, who are coming off a 23-0 whitewashing of visiting Texas last
weekend. That victory was the 500th in program history, which is quite
remarkable considering it had won a total of 299 games in the 93 years it
fielded teams prior to 1989.
Oklahoma State owns a 37-23 advantage in the all-time series with Kansas
State, and the Cowboys have won five of the last seven meetings.
Trailing 14-10 at halftime in last week’s tussle with West Virginia, the
Oklahoma State offense stalled over the final 30 minutes while the defense
surrendered an additional 20 points. When it was all said and done, the
Cowboys tallied 436 yards to 448 for the Mountaineers, boasting a balanced
attack that saw 210 yards come on the ground and 238 through the air.
Quarterback Daxx Garman completed only 21-of-41 passes and he had one scoring
strike while being intercepted twice. James Washington and David Glidden
combined for 10 catches and 150 yards, while speedy RB Tyreek Hill amassed 78
yards on 14 carries.
The Pokes did a tremendous job shutting down one of the nation’s top
receivers, as WVU’s Kevin White was held to 27 yards on three catches, ending
his streak of seven straight games with at least 100 yards. Unfortunately, the
Mountaineers couldn’t contain Mario Alford, as he finished with seven grabs
for 136 yards and a TD. Jordan Sterns was all over the field for Gundy’s
defense, logging 20 tackles (14 unassisted), and the team as a whole was
credited with four sacks, but no takeaways.
Gundy knows it’s important for his squad to stay focused as it stares down a
difficult home stretch.
“I shared with them that we have a game next Saturday whether we like it or
not. We have to rally, stay together as a group, come back tomorrow and go to
For the season, Oklahoma State ranks seventh in the Big 12 in both scoring
offense (30.2 ppg) and scoring defense (28 ppg). The Cowboys are among the
league leaders in sacks (24), but they are the worst when it comes to allowing
them (20). Garman is a 54.7 percent passer, who has thrown for 1,735 yards, 11
TDs and nine INTs, and while no player has more than 28 receptions (Glidden),
six have double-digit grabs, with all totaling at least 236 receiving yards.
Desmond Roland spearheads the rushing attack with 512 yards and seven TDs,
while Hill averages better than five yards per carry in generating 326 yards.
He has yet to record a rushing TD, however.
Sterns and Ryan Simmons are the team’s top tacklers, logging 63 apiece, the
bulk of which have been solo efforts. Emmanuel Ogbah leads the conference and
ranks third nationally with 8.0 sacks, while Josh Furman has 5.0. While OSU
ranks last in the Big 12 in pass defense (282.1 ypg), corner Kevin Peterson,
who was tasked with blanketing White last week, has 11 PBUs to rank fourth in
Kansas State is considered to be one of the elite teams in the Big 12, but it
is really a middling offensive squad, statistically speaking, in that it ranks
fifth in scoring (36.9 ppg) behind typical outputs of 178.3 ypg rushing and
246.3 ypg passing. Defensively however, the ‘Cats have been one of the
sturdier units in yielding a mere 19.3 ppg (No. 1), with foes generating just
99.3 ypg on the ground (No. 1) and 230.4 ypg through the air (No. 4).
Jake Waters has been one of the more efficient signal callers in the
conference this season, hitting the mark on 64.8 percent of his passes for
1,655 yards, nine TDs and only three INTs. Tyler Lockett (43 rec., 588 yards,
four TDs) and Curry Sexton (40 rec., 450 yards, two TDs) have been his
favorite targets, while Charles Jones, Waters and DeMarcus Robinson have all
run for more than 320 yards and a combined 20 TDs.
Johnathan Truman continues to pace the defense with his 68 tackles, which is
19 more than his closest teammate, and he is coming off an eight-tackle
performance in last week’s win over Texas. The Wildcats permitted only 196
yards of total offense to the Longhorns (90 rushing, 106 passing), while
nearly doubling them up in time of possession.
Waters went 19-of-30 for 224 yards, but failed to throw a TD pass, nor was he
picked off. Still, Lockett had another outstanding day, hauling in eight balls
for 103 yards. The run game totaled just 143 yards, but accounted for both of
the team’s TDs. Matthew McCrane booted through three field goals for the
Snyder praised his team following the triumph over Texas, specifically
remarking how difficult it is to keep an opponent off the scoreboard.
“I cannot remember the last time we had a shutout. It just does not happen in
this day and age. I thought it was something to be truly proud of.”
He continued, “We needed to be as good as we were. We played awfully well.”