Preview: Oklahoma at Kansas State
Preview: Oklahoma at Kansas State
A Snapshot of the Sooners
By Herbie Teope
The Wildcats (2-3 overall, 0-2 in the Big 12) host the No. 2 team in the nation, the Oklahoma Sooners (5-0, 2-0), Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas.
Saturday's contest features a rematch of the 2003 Big 12 Championship game, which Kansas State won in convincing fashion 35-7 on Dec. 6, 2003.
The last time the Wildcats faced the Sooners in 2001 resulted in a 38-37 loss. The last time the Sooners visited Manhattan in 2000 resulted in a 41-31 win.
The Sooners lead the all-time series 66-17-4. However, the Wildcats have won six of the previous nine meetings to include last year's Big 12 Championship game.
The Wildcats hope to rebound from a humbling 31-28 road loss to in-state rival Kansas. The Sooners are coming off a big 12-0 victory over No. 9 Texas, who was previously ranked fifth in the nation entering last Saturday's game against Oklahoma.
Kickoff is scheduled for 11:11 a.m. and the game will be televised regionally on ABC Sports.
The game will be broadcast live on radio via the Mid America Sports Network.
Keys to the game
Despite being shutdown the previous two games, senior running back Darren Sproles is ninth in the nation rushing the ball averaging 138.8 yards per game. However, since rushing for a career-high 292 yards on 38 carries against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sep. 18, Sproles has gained 134 yards on 44 carries in two games. Sproles, who has lost five fumbles in the last three games, must shake the previous turnovers, hold onto the ball and play with confidence. Moreover, the Kansas State offensive line must open the running lanes to get him into the open field where he is the most dangerous.
The last time Sproles faced the Sooners, he shredded them for 345 total yards (235 rushing) including a career-best 60-yard touchdown reception. Sproles won't have it easy Saturday, but he must be involved. The Sooners are coming off a game where they held Texas running back Cedric Benson to 92 yards on 23 carries. Benson entered that game averaging 186.5 rushing yards per game.
Start and finish the game
Sophomore quarterback Dylan Meier has played heroically the last two games in attempted comebacks by completing 44-of-69 passes for 495 yards and five touchdowns against two interceptions. He's also rushed for two touchdowns in that same span. In order for Kansas State to possibly win Saturday, Meier must be healthy enough to start and finish the game. The sophomore gives the team stability in the passing game, and is a viable weapon that the Sooners must account for.
The game of field position
Special teams are again under the microscope. In last Saturday's loss, the Jayhawks started five drives in Kansas State territory, and were able to turn three short drives into 17 points. The Sooners enter Saturday's contest averaging 34.8 points, and can't be given a short field to work with. The Wildcats, who are surrendering an average of 30 points per game, should look to pin the Sooners deep in their own territory whenever possible. "Make them earn it" should be the Wildcats' battle cry.
Stop freshman running back Adrian Peterson
Senior quarterback Jason White is dangerous, but the key to stopping the Sooners this year is at running back. The Kansas State defense has its work cut out for them against Peterson, who enters the game ranked fifth in the nation having rushed for 771 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries.
The highly touted freshman is coming off a career-high 225 yards rushing against a solid Texas run defense. Peterson made it look easy against the Longhorns, and he possesses a strong combination of speed and power. Junior running back Kejuan Jones, who had a 42-yard touchdown run in last year's Big 12 Championship game, gives the Sooners an effective one-two punch at the position. Jones has rushed for 288 yards and four touchdowns on 67 carries this season. As a team, the Sooners have gained 1,270 yards on 239 attempts.
The Wildcats haven't faced a running back tandem this formidable, but they have to remain disciplined on defense and not miss tackles if they hope to contain Peterson.
The home field advantage
Despite the Sep. 11 loss to Fresno State, the Wildcats are incredible at home. Since 1990, Kansas State has gone 83-11-1. Wildcat fans must be vocal and supportive to provide the Wildcats an edge and emotional lift.
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