NORMAN — Bill Snyder wasn't pleased with Kansas State's effort in its closer-than-expected home victory over North Texas.
But even worse, Snyder was upset with how poorly the Wildcats practiced during the week preceding Saturday's 35-21 win.
“It goes back to what I talk about all the time, and that is taking something for granted,” Snyder said after the game. “We ran around on the practice field and did not go through the fundamentals of tackling and consequently we did not tackle well in the ballgame.
“I think it was the attitude that we took into the ballgame, and the approach as related to the practice environment had as much to do with it as anything.”
The Wildcats could survive with those types of practices against the overmatched Mean Green. But an effort like that this Saturday, when No. 15 K-State travels to Norman to face No. 6 Oklahoma, and the Wildcats could be humiliated.
“We better practice with purpose this week, or it'll be 150-0,” Snyder said.
Five reasons OU will lose
Offensive systems could favor Kansas State: Many of Kansas State's struggles against North Texas stemmed from the Mean Green keeping possession of the ball over 14 minutes more than the Wildcats. That sort of game plan — that kept Collin Klein on the sideline — doesn't suit Oklahoma's offense. If OU has a couple early three-and-outs, and K-State can sustain long drives by powering through OU's run defense, it could spell trouble for the Sooners.
OU hasn't faced a rushing attack like K-State's: Kansas State rushers have averaged 5.9 yards a carry through three games, and Oklahoma's run defense has shown itself to be suspect so far. UTEP's Nathan Jeffery gashed the Sooners for 177 yards, and although OU wound up with impressive numbers vs. Florida A&M, the Rattlers did break off a couple nice runs early. Senior DT Casey Walker's return could help, but how much of a difference can one guy make?
Collin Klein has been a dual-threat QB: Klein's running abilities are well-documented, but he has been an efficient passer through three games this season, too. Klein has completed 72 percent of his passes with five touchdowns through the air, in addition to his 4.6 yards-per-carry rushing average.
Wildcats' block party: Bob Stoops' OU teams used to be known for blocking kicks; lately, though, they've far more often been the ones having their kicks blocked. The Sooners have blocked one punt since 2008, and haven't gotten their hands on a field goal in eight years. In the season opener at UTEP, OU had a punt — which was returned for a touchdown — and a field goal blocked. K-State, meanwhile, has blocked six kicks since the beginning of last season.
Sack attack: Oklahoma has given up six sacks through two games this season, and Kansas State has sacked opposing quarterbacks eight times. If UTEP and Florida A&M defenders got to Landry Jones, why shouldn't K-State's be able to, also?
Five reasons OU will win
K-State's win over Miami doesn't seem so impressive after Saturday: Kansas State looked fantastic in a 52-13 walloping of Miami on Sept. 8, but both teams' Saturday games tempered that once-impressive result a bit. K-State got all it wanted at home from North Texas, and Miami struggled at home in a 38-10 win against Bethune-Cookman. The Hurricanes were tied 7-7 with their FCS opponent after one quarter and just led by 10 at halftime.
Landry Jones could be in for a big day: North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson completed 19 of 45 passes with one touchdown and two interceptions in the Mean Green's first two games. At K-State, he was 25 of 28 for 208 yards, with a touchdown and no picks. Numbers like that bode well for OU's most prolific passer of all time.
Stoops' teams are historically strong after bye weeks: OU had an extra week to prepare for K-State, and under Stoops, the Sooners are 14-4 following bye weeks in the regular season.
... They also win big in the regular season when doubted: Stoops has typically been a supreme motivator for his OU teams when they play ranked, upstart teams in the regular season — particularly when those games are at home. Think Iowa State in 2002 (49-3), OSU in 2003 (52-9), Missouri twice in 2007 (41-31 and 38-17), Texas Tech in 2008 (65-21), OSU in 2009 (27-0) and Florida State in 2010 (47-17).
OU protects its house against ranked intruders: The Sooners have lost just three times at home under Bob Stoops, and those were all complete surprises vs. unranked opponents (OSU in 2001, TCU in 2005, Texas Tech in 2011). In the modern era of college football, K-State has won just three times in Norman (1970, 1994, 1997).
Berry Tramel's take on OU-Kansas State
Here's the problem for the Sooners on Saturday against Kansas State: the Wildcats play down to their competition, yes, but they also play up to their competition.
Eastern Kentucky last season? Missouri State this season? North Texas two seasons straight? K-State goofs around most of the game before finding victory.
But KSU has beaten Texas four straight times. Has beaten Texas A&M three straight times. Won at Miami last year and routed the Hurricanes a week ago.
The Wildcats played OSU within a touchdown last year in Stillwater, the same margin by which they won at home over Iowa State.
But here's the problem for the Wildcats. That play up/play down theory doesn't extend to their Sooner series.
Last year, K-State finished ahead of OU in the Big 12 standings, yet the Sooners won 58-17 in Manhattan.
Bad matchup for KSU? Probably. But in this showdown of teams ranked sixth (OU) and 15th (KSU), the ‘Cats need to again play up to their competition.
Jenni Carlson's take on OU-Kansas State
Collin Klein won't be the biggest guy on the Owen Field turf on Saturday, but he will be Oklahoma's biggest problem.
The Kansas State quarterback is a tough runner. He is 6-foot-5, 226 pounds. He can run over defenders or run by them. He can be a nightmare for even really good run defenses.
How good is the Sooners' run defense?
It's hard to say.
Unheralded UTEP tailback Nathan Jeffrey ran for 177 yards against OU, and he probably would've gone for more had cramps not truncated his day. But, of course, the Sooners were playing without defensive tackles Casey Walker and Stacy McGee while youngsters Jordan Phillips and Marquis Anderson spelled the starters.
Now, Walker has returned, and Phillips and Anderson have another couple weeks under their belts. Surely, that makes the defensive line better.
But how much better?
Klein will provide a major test. Pass it, and the Sooners win. But if the defensive line fails, it will be a long night.