Strength of Schedule: Kansas State

Sooners look for a little payback against the Wildcats

For the second year in a row, Sooners Illustrated breaks down Oklahoma’s toughest games for the upcoming season. The rating system is based on the importance of a win, the strength of the opponent and a general idea of how key the game will be in terms of scheduling and performance.

It starts with the easiest game and ends up with the toughest.

7. Kansas State

It’s debatable whether or not the loss to Kansas State or the loss to TCU was the bigger surprise to the Sooners’ season. TCU was on the road, and the Horned Frogs did have a top-tier defense. Kansas State had its great coach but not much else. And it was in Norman. And it might have been more heart-breaking considering Michael Hunnicutt’s unexpected kicking woes.

2014 record: 9-4

Last year vs. OU: 31-30, Kansas State

Why this game is dangerous: Two words: Bill Snyder. This year will be dangerous for the same reason that last year was a problem. It’s tough to account for Snyder and the experience he brings to the sideline. Last year, it was quarterback Jake Waters that gave Oklahoma problems. This year, it’ll be the defense – a unit that includes a veteran secondary that allowed less than 230 yards per game last season. That total was second-best in the conference.

Players to watch: Coming off the Red River Rivalry game a week earlier, Oklahoma won’t have much time to recover with a road trip a couple hours north. So, the Sooners will need to rely on their stars. The spotlight is on Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, who could make his first mark on the Big 12 Conference. Mixon’s versatility on the field could shine against a well-coached defense but one that also lacks in overall talent.

Prediction:Behind a stout running attack that sees freshman Rodney Anderson score his first collegiate touchdown, Oklahoma doesn’t have much trouble with Kansas State. The Sooners’ defense makes two key second-half turnovers to put the game out of reach – Oklahoma, 31-14.

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