Coming off of their fourth straight win following their victory over TCU last week, the Kansas State Wildcats (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) will need to have all rockets firing if they want to end their eighth and final 2013 home game on a positive note against Oklahoma University Sooners (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) on Saturday. The game will kick-off at 11:00 a.m. CT and will be televised on FOX Sports 1.
The Sooners, whose Big 12 losses came against Baylor and Texas, will be arriving at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on the hunt for head coach Bob Stoops’ 158th win. This win over the Wildcats would make Stoops the all-time winningest coach, an extra sweet victory as it would be against his former mentor, head coach Bill Snyder.
The records show the Sooners as having the upper hand with a 7-2 win history against the Wildcats, including 4-0 in Manhattan, though the Wildcats won their latest matchup in 2012.
Ironically or perhaps intentionally, the Sooners have been strongest in their defense and running game this season; a very Snyderesque styled team. The Wildcats, who have also stepped up in these categories of late, especially defense, will have to take advantage of the Sooners lack of passing and absence of key players. The collection of players sitting out this week for the Sooners, including suspended key running back Damien Williams and wide receiver Lacoltan Bester, could cripple the Sooners offense enough to give the Wildcats a significant advantage. Without the crucial yardage that Williams provides, the Sooners may not have enough steam to power through Saturday’s frigid temperatures.
To make matters worse for the Sooners, the Wildcats rushing defense has been monstrous lately, allowing just 122.1 yards per game. Against TCU, the Wildcats beat their own average and held the Horned Frogs to 111 rushing yards. Their aggressiveness will be needed against the Sooners, who are second in the Big 12 in rushing with more than 235 per game and about 5 yards per carry in conference games, on average. They are second only to powerhouse Baylor. Sooner quarterback Trevor Knight will play an important part in the run game this week. Against Iowa State, Knight ran for over 100 yards, contributing to breaking the Sooners program record for rushing yards in a single game.
K-State quarterback Daniel Sams and running back John Hubert rank in the top in the Big 12 in rushing yards, each averaging around 5 yards per carry. If Sams can maintain his dynamism in the running game, capitalize on his throwing opportunities and minimize turnovers, he could be the deciding factor in the final outcome.
It is expected that Wildcats defensive back, Ty Zimmerman will also not step on the field on Saturday. Despite suffering similar injuries to his right ankle which caused him to miss the last two games of the regular season last year, Zimmerman was able to recover in time to make it to the Fiesta Bowl. However, only time will tell what is in store for the senior this time around.
Weather could affect Saturday’s game with the predicted kick-off temperature sitting around a chilly 34 degrees and a promise of cloudy conditions. The weather’s potential impact on either teams’ throwing game makes it likely that both will keep the ball on the ground. Regardless, Snyder seems to be undeterred and has said the 30 degree temperatures are not that cold, dismissing any impact the weather might have on the game.