Rarely do we put the challenge out on Quinn Sharp, but we will this week. I like the matchup overall between the Cowboys defense and the Kansas State offense as OSU fans are looking for a more dominant defensive performance and there is a chance to get that here, especially if the Cowboys offense gets out to a multi-score advantage.
OSU Quarterback Brandon Weeden vs. KSU Middle Linebacker and Defensive Catalyst Arthur Brown
I really like the addition of Brown for Kansas State and he is a huge defensive playmaker. He shadowed RG3 and hid behind a defensive end and popped out for a game changing interception at just the right time against Baylor. He can line up on the edge and become the linebacker blitzer for the Cats or line up in the middle and get the deep drop needed to run an effective Tampa coverage. He is versatile and talented with lots of speed for a linebacker. I don't think he'll "spy" Weeden, no need as Brandon is not a runner. However, he will be trying to read Weeden and out maneuver the Cowboys offense. Two smart football players trying to get their side of the ball in the best alignment to attack the other. This likely won't be their last meeting as they could see each other again on Sundays.
Advantage: Edge to Brandon Weeden
Just like above, I don't think any "spying" will be going on, but Klein creates all kinds of problems for the Oklahoma State defense from a gap control philosophy as Klein is much more than a quarterback as he is also the primary run threat meaning when he does run there is no quarterback carrying out a fake and running out of the play. There is an extra blocker to account for an extra defender and at the point of attack that could leave a wide open running lane. Caleb Lavey is not a veteran but he is a student of the game that can help with getting the Cowboy defenders in the best position and communicating during the course of the game. Martin is a veteran big hitter that could find himself much more involved in run defense depending on how the game plays out. Actually, everybody needs to be on the lookout for Klein and the minute he runs past the line they need to put him on the ground.
Advantage: Edge to Collin Klein
OSU Kickoff Specialist Quinn Sharp vs. KSU Kickoff Returner Tyler Lockett
The Cowboys have not been seriously threatened in recent weeks with the upset, but it could happen and Kansas State is good enough to do it if they protect the ball and do a suitable job of not letting the Oklahoma State offense explode all over them. If they do then a key special teams factor could be kickoff returns. Coverage has, at times, been a problem for the Cowboys. Meanwhile, Kansas State and Oklahoma product Tyler Lockett lead the nation in kickoff returns. The coverage unit needs to be good, but Sharp needs to be outstanding, as in touchbacks as often as possible. A lot of that is focusing and Sharp needs to be ready to nail every kickoff on Saturday.
Advantage: Edge to Quinn Sharp
Last season in Manhattan the Cowboys could only manage a 24-14 win over the Wildcats, but remember that was the game that Justin Blackmon was left at home and the Cowboys did manage 511 yards of offense. It was an effort that resembled Baylor last week with a lot of drives into plus territory, but not enough of those drives were finished. The Cowboys have become really good finishers this season and Blackmon is seemingly charged up for the stretch drive of the season. Kansas State is actually a little better defensively with a standout in Arthur Brown at middle linebacker, but if the Cowboys offense can got out and get early scores to put Kansas State two or more scores behind on the board then Oklahoma State can really dictate what is going on and Kansas State will be forced out of their offensive comfort zone with the clock and pace controlling ground game. Lots of tempo is not what Kansas State wants on Saturday night. This is a game between the tortoise and the hare. Lately, the speedy rabbit has been getting to the finish line first.
#3 Oklahoma State 48, #17 Kansas State 24
Big 12 Predictions
@Texas 34, Texas Tech 28
@Iowa State 42, Kansas 20
@#7 Oklahoma 38, Texas A&M 14
Missouri 41 @ Baylor 31
Straight Up: 41-13
Against the Spread: 30-16
Not all games have point spreads as games versus FCS opponents do not.
Straight Up: 3-2
Against the Spread: 2-3
@#3 Oklahoma State 55, Baylor 31
@#16 Texas A&M 35, Missouri 24
#11 Oklahoma 34 @#10 Kansas State 17
@Texas 52, Kansas 28
@#19 Texas Tech 48, Iowa State 21