Oklahoma State kicks off its Big 12 slate with a Saturday night visit from Kansas State. Let’s take a look at some key strengths and weaknesses for each team.
Run Game: Strength for Kansas State
The Cowboys may have finally taken some strides on the blue turf, but the Wildcats have been effective both running the ball and stopping the run all season.
K-State, led by Big 12-leading rusher Deuce Vaughn, has rushed the ball for at least 200 yards in each game this year, and is fresh off of a 269-yard, four-TD win over Nevada. The Wildcats rank 19th in rushing offense (225.7 per game) and T5th in total rushing scores (11) through three games.
On defense, the ‘Cats have allowed 164 yards on the ground all season, good for the seventh best rushing defense in the country (54.7 average). And it’s not all been cupcakes. In the season opener, K-State held Stanford to 22 carries for just 39 yards (1.8 average). The Cardinal has since put up 141 yards and three scores against USC and then 204 and three more against Vanderbilt. OSU’s newfound run-game success will be tested on Saturday.
Passing Game: Weakness for Both
With Spencer Sanders missing Week 1 due to COVID protocols and constant shuffling along the offensive line — and now a dearth of healthy depth among its receiving corps, the Cowboys have not shown the lethal passing threat that we’re used to seeing, but the Wildcats may be in worse shape.
Super senior QB Skylar Thompson suffered a knee injury that is out indefinitely. In his stead against Nevada, the Wildcats went to Will Howard. He went 7-for-10 for 123 yards and a score while picking up 56 yards on the ground in the win last week. Cowboys fans may remember Howard who spelled Thompson when K-State hosted OSU last year. He went 10-for-21 for 143 yards, a score and a pick in the Pokes’ 20-18 win. He also had this fumble.
Red Zone Game: Strength for Both
Both the Cowboys and Wildcats have been effective at scoring TDs instead of field goals once they do make it to the red zone. In 10 red zone trips, OSU has scored nine times and has been limited to three just once. K-State has scored on 11 of 12 trips inside the 20, and has scored seven on nine of those tries. I have feeling that every possession will count, so this one might come down to which team earns the edge in the red zone.
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