Sooners ready to match K-State's physicality

NORMAN, Okla. — Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder's teams are known for their poise, being fundamentally sound, doing all the little things right to win games and not beating themselves.

But they also have a reputation of being some of the toughest, most physical teams in the Big 12 Conference and the country on a year-in, year-out basis.

And this Kansas State team led by powerful, 6-foot-5, 226-pound quarterback Collin Klein is the carbon copy of that description, something the Sooners are prepared and excited to compete against.

"You know, it kinda just puts a fire up under us, makes us just want to just work harder and stronger because we know they're gonna come with it, with everything that they have so we have to do the same," said linebacker Corey Nelson. "And it just builds this fire up inside of us."

Linebacker Joseph Ibiloye, who could see perhaps his most action of the season as the Sooners roll out the 4-3 defense in what figures to be a downhill run game, labeled this one against the Wildcats as the most grueling contest of the season.

"This is like the most physical game we're going to play all year," Ibiloye said. "So, it's been a big emphasis on the run this week."

Klein and company in that rushing attack are averaging 5.9 yards per rush with already 11 rushing touchdowns through three games.

While the K-State signal caller has banged out 210 yards and four scores, running back John Hubert has netted 296 yards and three touchdowns on the ground as well.

He's averaging just less than 98.7 yards per game.

"You know, it's just downhill run game," said OU linebacker Corey Nelson. "It just determines whoever is the physical, whoever is more physical, that's what it comes down to. And man, this is a game for linebackers. You know, it's fit for linebackers. It's fit for guys like us to be able to get out there, get downhill and see who's the strongest."

But it's also a challenge on the other side of the ball.

The Kansas State defense, led by former Miami transfer and last year's Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, linebacker Arthur Brown, is stout.

What OU has been able to do so far offensively--running back Damien Williams has sprinted for 259 yards and five touchdowns while guiding his team to a 7.1 yard-per-carry average--will undoubtedly be much more difficult against an aggressive front four with Brown behind them in the middle.

"I mean, that's what this game's about," said OU centers/guards coach James Patton. "Kansas State's a pretty physical team. You know, they're only giving up about 2.9 yards per rush, so they play good run defense. So, it'll be a challenge for us, but our guys have had a couple good days of practice, gotta keep it going."

After all, the Sooners realize in a day and age where spread offenses that throw the ball all over the field predominantly characterize the Big 12, getting to be a part of a grind-it-out, toughest man wins contest is easy to get up for.

"Man, this is like a once in a lifetime dream, you know, to be able to play a physical team like this and to see who's the strongest," Nelson said. "Memories will be made here, you know. It's just going to be an amazing feeling to just go out there and just to see how it all unfolds."

The two teams will do so when OU hosts K-State at 6:50 p.m. CT Saturday.

Follow me at or

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories