GAME NOTES: A battle between two nationally-ranked Big 12 Conference foes takes place in Norman on Saturday night, as No. 15 Kansas State challenges No. 6 Oklahoma.
This is the conference opener for both teams, neither of which has suffered a defeat to this point in the season.
Kansas State is 3-0 after posting double-digit home wins over Missouri State (51-9), Miami-Florida (52-13) and North Texas (35-21). The recent win over the Mean Green pushed KSU's record under legendary coach Bill Snyder in games played in the month of September to an astounding 54-5. The Wildcats, who will play three of their next four and five of their final nine games of the regular season on the road, are seeking their fourth straight win in Big 12 openers.
Oklahoma was idle last weekend, and the Sooners' two wins thus far have come at UTEP (24-7), and at home versus Florida A&M (69-13). The Sooners are hoping to secure their 10th 3-0 start in head coach Bob Stoops' 14 years at the helm. They are in 11-2 in Big 12 openers under Stoops, and they are a perfect 13-0 in their first home conference game of a season, outscoring the opposition by an average of 22.6 points in the process.
Oklahoma owns a commanding 71-17-4 lead in the all-time series with Kansas State, and the Sooners are 8-1 against the Wildcats during Stoops' tenure. Furthermore, OU is 35-6-3 at home against KSU. The 'Cats last beat the Sooners in Norman during the regular season back in 1997, 26-7.
A week after shredding Miami, Kansas State had its hands full with a scrappy North Texas squad last Saturday, playing to a near standstill -- at least in terms of yardage gained (373-353). The difference in the game being the Wildcats' ability to make the big play when they needed to most, as they scored a TD in every quarter, two in the fourth, to win by double digits.
Stars of the game for K-State included QB Collin Klein, who threw for 230 yards, rushed for 85 and accounted for three TDs, WR Tramaine Thompson who caught five balls for a career-high 102 yards and two scores, and WR Tyler Lockett who returned a first-quarter kickoff 96 yards for a TD.
So far this season, the Wildcats are averaging 46 points and 454.7 yards per contest. They are have a net of 251.7 ypg on the ground, and they've scored 11 rushing TDs already. Klein, who has completed 72.9 percent of his pass attempts for 609 yards, five TDs and two INTs, has a team-high four rushing scores, and his 210 rushing yards is just behind RB John Hubert's 296. Hubert has found the end zone three times. As for the receivers, Thompson leads the way with 11 grabs for 211 yards and three scores.
Following the win over UNT, Lockett looked ahead to Oklahoma, "I think it is a really big game nationally, especially because we are going down to Norman where OU rarely loses. But it is just like coach Snyder always says, it is back to the drawing board on Monday. We have got to give it all we have got all of next week so we can get ourselves prepared to execute next weekend against OU."
Defensively, K-State is allowing just 14.3 ppg, with foes finding it particularly rough trying to run the ball (93.3 ypg). LB Arthur Brown (28 tackles) has been the team's most active defender, while DE Adam Davis has been credited with three of its eight sacks.
Brown recorded a game-high 13 stops in the win over North Texas, and DB Allen Chapman finished with 11, including two in the Mean Green backfield. UNT managed to produce 145 rushing yards, but did so on 40 attempts (3.6 ypc).
The Sooners have outscored their first two opponents by a 93-20 margin, using a balanced offensive attack and some pretty stingy defense to get the job done against inferior competition. Still, there is no denying the Sooners have the talent to not only challenge for the Big 12 title, but the BCS National Championship as well.
In the recent win over Florida A&M, the OU offense was firing on all cylinders, amassing 662 total yards (349 rushing, 313 passing), picking up 33 first downs and scoring on all nine of its trips to the red zone. RB Damien Williams had a monster day, rushing for 156 yards and four TDs, while WR Kenny Stills did his part in the passing game with 10 catches for 120 yards and a score. QB Landry Jones, who finished 19-of-28 for 252 yards, two TDs and one INT, has proven himself to be one of the most valuable field generals in the nation, and he continues to do the things that are necessary to give his team the best possible shot at picking up a victory.
Jones, who is 31-8 as a starter and is just one win away from tying Steve Davis as the all-time winningest QB in school history, is hitting the mark on 62.5 percent of his throws this season, collecting 474 yards and four TDs. Stills has more than doubled his closest teammate in total receptions with 16 for 241 yards and two scores. Williams is averaging close to 13 yards per rush attempt, and has crossed the goal line five times already in helping the Sooners roll up 277 ypg on the ground.
Defensively, Oklahoma is permitting just 10 ppg, with foes averaging a mere 245 total ypg. The Sooners' effort against the pass (111.0 ypg, one TD) has been especially impressive, and LB Tom Wort and DB Javon Harris share the team lead in tackles with 12, and the latter secured the club's first turnover of the season with an INT in the win over FAMU.
The Rattlers were stymied to the tune of 61 net rushing yards, and they managed just nine first downs on the day. The OU defense logged five sacks, and did not allow its overmatched opponent even a sniff at the red zone.
After the win over Florida A&M, OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops spoke about the upgrade in competition the Sooners will face next, "Kansas State is a very detailed in their preparation. They present a lot of problems defensively. That run game -- we have a lot to study. We played an outstanding game against K-State a year ago. We have got to try to anticipate what adjustments will be made on their part and be able to counter them, so it will be a great test for our defense."
This one has the all makings of a classic, provided both teams play up to their potential. Expect them to trade blows throughout, but for the Sooners to be the ones left standing when the dust finally settles.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 27, Kansas State 24
09/19 10:35:21 ET
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