OSU-Kansas State Key Matchups & Predictions

Robert Allen's key matchups and prediction for Oklahoma State's game against Kansas State on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.

1. OSU linebackers Orie Lemon and Justin Gent
vs. Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas
Thomas is a big-time back that makes big yardage when he can beat the opposing team's linebackers, and by beat, I mean keep from being tackled by those players.

Thomas is the guy that the Kansas State defense revolves around. They will use plenty of power O, zone, and stretch plays. They will also use zone read or stretch-arch-read plays to try and get Thomas into the secondary. Much of their passing game has play action at the beginning.

Thomas is also featured in the "Wildcat" and has show he is quite capable of throwing the ball as well as running in that formation. At 6-2, 228 pounds, he is big and physical but also has good speed for a back of that size. Stop Thomas and you shut down the Kansas State offense.

Last week Lemon and Gent and the other Cowboy tacklers missed a number of tackles (reportedly 33) and a lot of that was going for the big hit. No big hits, just solid tackles by wrapping up is the order of the day against Thomas.
Edge: Too Close to Call

2. OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden
vs. Kansas State cornerback David Garrett and the rest of the secondary
We now know that Weeden won't have his favorite target in Justin Blackmon. This may advance the development of Weeden as a quarterback as the events of the week and Mike Gundy's punishment for Blackmon has taken the OSU receiver out of the offense and now Weeden needs to look other places and more often.

Garrett is the best tackler, the swiftest player, and the best cover skills defender in the Wildcat secondary. Tysyn Hartman is also a good player but not as good on coverage and not as fast as Garrett.

Weeden will go through his progressions and need to find the most open receiver and make sure he doesn't allow turnovers. This is not something you want to make a habit, leaving home your top receiver and scorer, but it is something that in one week can stretch your team and induce new playmakers. Look for veterans like Josh Cooper and Bo Bowling to try to pick up the slack.
Edge:> Big Advantage to Weeden

3. OSU kickoff team
vs. Kansas State kickoff return team and William Powell
This matchup gets a lot of publicity because of the disparity, and K-State and Powell are legitimately good. The Cowboys coverage unit gets more thin each week due to injuries, but just on execution alone should be better after getting even more special attention than usual.
Edge: Powell and KSU.

Even without Justin Blackmon the Cowboys have the firepower on offense to put up big numbers. Weeden's development will be tested as he won't have his security blanket in Blackmon. I look for Josh Cooper and Bo Bowling to have big games. Michael Harrison did not have any balls thrown to him despite playing against Nebraska. Before the finger injury and surgery he was starting to become a go-to type of guy especially in the red zone.

My guess is Kansas State will get more agressive with its safeties and make more of an effort against the run with Blackmon out. This offense should be able to counter that move. The other matchup is a matter of toughness. I don't see Kansas State throwing for 323 yards like Nebraska did last week. They have been close to 300yards twice this season, with 290 versus Missouri State and 298 yards last week at Baylor. Other than that they have not had more than 200 yards passing in any other games. The key is stopping Daniel Thomas and if you can curtail his success then you have severely limited the K-State offense.

No. 20 Oklahoma State 42, Kansas State 28

Big 12 Predictions
Iowa State 38, Kansas 7

@ #14 Nebraska 27, #8 Missouri 25

Texas Tech 31, @Texas A&M 28

@ Texas 23, #25 Baylor 20

@ #11 Oklahoma 42, Colorado 21

Robert Allen's Record for the Season
Straight Up: 50-15
Against the Spread: 29-27
Not all games have a spread - Games with Big 12 teams involving FCS teams do not have spreads.

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