OU Game Preview: KSU Wildcats

On October 25th The Sooners head up to Manhattan to take on the Kansas State Wildcats. It marks the 90th meeting between the two longtime rivals. Oklahoma has a staggering 68-17-4 lead in the all time series, which includes a current 2 game winning streak over their foes to the north.

Although the Wildcats slipped in the win department last year, the maturation of quarterback Josh Freeman gives K-State something to look forward to. The 6-6 250 pound junior threw for 3,353 yards and 18 touchdowns, and may have the strongest arm in the Big 12.

Freeman will have to find a new favorite target this season, with the sensational Jordy Nelson gone to the NFL. Deon Murphy is the teams top returning receiver statistically, but his academic problems in the spring created opportunities for Ernie Pierce and Cedric Wilson. Junior College transfer Adrian Wilson also has Wildcat fans buzzing. Kansas State struggled on the ground a year ago, but an unexpected boost arrived in the form of walk on Junior College running back, Keithen Valentine, who stepped in and rushed for 104 yards in the spring game.

"He is very focused, we got good competition at that position, I think it is very clear that he is going to help us at that position. How much, how often and where is what we will try to figure out. I think he did a really terrific job he has the kind of personality and the type of guy you want in your locker room," K-State coach Ron Prince said of the 5-9 195 pound Junior.

The K-State defense was less than stellar in 2007, but after a switch back the 4-3 and a dominating spring game performance, there is hope for improvement in 2008.

One of the catalysts for the surge in defense was the move of Ian Campbell from linebacker back to defensive end, where he recorded 11 ½ sacks in 2006. Behind Campbell, K-State will employ a system of linebacker by committee.

"I don't think anyone has a solid spot at linebacker just because it good competition all the way through. It's not that anyone has done anything poorly but they all have performed well and understand what we are trying to do," Prince commented.

Returning starting safeties Chris Carney and Gary Chandler will attempt lead the way in improving a secondary that ranked 99th in the country last year, but they will have help from red shirt sophomore Joshua Moore and Blair Irvin, who could both be upgrades at cornerback. Whoever wins the summer place kicking battle for the Sooners would be wise to steer clear of kicking the ball anywhere near Deon Murphy, who is one of the most dangerous returners in the country.

Though the Sooners match up well on paper to the Wildcats, the fact that this game is sandwiched between Oklahoma's two most storied rivalries makes this the perfect candidate for a trap. K-State has managed to play the spoiler role in the south for the last two seasons by defeating Texas, and would love to make it three in a row with a victory over the Sooners. This game will be a challenge to OU's mental toughness.

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