Strength of Schedule: Kansas State

Oklahoma invites the Wildcats to Norman for the ninth-ranked game

It has been two years since Oklahoma split the Big 12 championship with Kansas State, the ninth-rated team on this list. While they played last year, the bad blood hasn’t completely subsided yet – at least from the Sooners’ side. This is still a big game, especially with the talent that Kansas State has on its roster.

9. Kansas State

2013 record: 8-5

Last year vs. OU:41-31, Oklahoma

Why this game is dangerous: A crafty coach and an underdog are two very dangerous things. The Wildcats will always be an upset-waiting-to-happen with Bill Snyder walking the sidelines and leading the team. He’s one of the top coaches in the country – just look at the quick turnaround by the Wildcats when he returned as coach. Kansas State doubled its wins in just two years and has posted at least eight wins in each of the past three seasons. Oklahoma comes into this game as the favorite, and Collin Klein isn’t ‘walking through that door’ for Kansas State. But they do have skill and a similar quarterback to Trevor Knight. Senior Jake Waters’ late-season surge, during which Kansas State won six of its last seven including a bowl win against Michigan, pushed him to the front of the depth chart. The Wildcats’ lone loss in that stretch was in Manhattan against the Sooners.

Players to watch: Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez could be in the middle of the spotlight once this late-season game begins. Kansas State has enough playmakers on the outside to distract the rest of the Sooners’ secondary, especially with the move of former quarterback Daniel Sams to wide receiver. This means that Sanchez, who is believed to be the Sooners’ best cover corner but has to prove it this year, could draw the one-on-one assignment against Tyler Lockett. Lockett, who can score every time he touches the ball, had 81 catches, 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He has a 15.3 yards per catch average in his career. It’ll be on Sanchez to lock down Lockette – pun intended.

Prediction: First, the bad: Sanchez doesn’t shut down Lockette. In fact, the big receiver hauls in two touchdowns passes and terrorizes the Sooners’ secondary. He does this because the Wildcats aren’t running the football. They’re behind because of an early surge by the Sooners – maybe three first-quarter touchdowns. The Wildcats will pull back within a score, but Oklahoma still takes this one with an insurance touchdown, 36-24.

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