Wildcats will bring their A-game against their newfound rival- how could they not? After the loss a few years ago and watching the Thundering Herd dance and delight at mid-field, suffice to say some players seek redemption.
The Cats are undefeated under Coach Prince at home and if this upstart of a streak is to continue, K-State will need to elevate their play and eliminate mental errors.
But let's not put the horse before the cart just yet, let's start at the beginning. Marshall and K-State have somewhat of a rivalry, even though this will be only the third time in history these two teams have met. The Thundering Herd took the first game in 2003 in Manhattan, and the Wildcats returned the favor by beating them at their house last year. The rubber match will prove to be an exciting one, and expect a close game to the end with lead changes and emotional swings.
The Herd is capable of putting points on the board and it will fall to Coach Morris and his defense to slow the Herd and give the offense time on the field. The offense must be opportunistic and convert on the chances they are afforded. This offense is running through Dylan Meier right now and the running game must be effective early to keep the Herd from loading up the box. Leon Patton in a very short time has proven himself to be a hidden weapon and Thomas Clayton is a grizzled fifth year veteran.
Player of the Game on offense: Running back Thomas Clayton
If K-State expects to have success against this team, then the running game is going to be key. The offense will need to establish a solid running game in order to open up the pass. Clayton will get it done and reach the century mark for the first time this season.
Player of the Game on defense: Cornerback Bryan Baldwin
Baldwin is a quiet leader on this defense. He just goes about his business and makes plays. He recorded his first interception of the season last week, and I expect more of the same Saturday. He might even take one back to the house.
Surprise contributor: Defensive back Joshua Moore
Moore played extensive minutes last week and really impressed the coaches. He was second on the team with six total tackles, and he also had two tackles for a loss. Expect him to receive big minutes and maybe even make a play for two.
Player you shouldn't expect too much out of: Wide receiver Jordy Nelson
Nelson didn't play in the second half of last week's game due to an undisclosed leg injury. Prince and Nelson have both said that he will play, but I am not convinced that he is 100%. If he does play extensive minutes, then he will get only three or four receptions and around 40 yards receiving.
Three keys to a Wildcat victory:
Forgot about the rivalry – It's not important. Thinking too much about a stupid rivalry makes players try to hard to execute in the clutch. If everyone just goes out there and does their job, then there shouldn't be a problem come Saturday.
Contain Marshall quarterback Bernard Morris –
He is a scrambling quarterback, and if he gets into space then watch out. The outside linebackers and the entire secondary better not take their eyes of Morris, or else he will take off and pick up easy first downs all day long.
Don't fall behind early –
Taking the early lead will crush the hopes of Marshall to pull another upset. Falling behind early only gives them more confidence that they can win this game. The Wildcats must put together a couple of early drives and don't let the crowd out of the game.
Final Score: KSU 31, MU 24
Don't expect another 45-0 blowout from the Wildcats. This team from Marshall will give K-State its biggest test of the season, and if Morris and Bradshaw both rush for more than 100 yards, then K-State will be in for a long day.
The Wildcats pull out their third win of the season because there is no way they let this team win on their home field for the second straight time. I look to see an improved Offensive Line as that is Coach Prince's forte and it takes time for these guys to get comfortbale with the scheme and one another.