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Oklahoma football: Weighing Kansas State's chances against the Sooners

Kansas State didn't look to impressive win a 35-21 win over North Texas. The Oklahoman takes a look at five reasons the Sooners could win this Saturday and five reasons the Wildcats could win.
by Berry Tramel and Jenni Carlson and Jason Kersey Published: September 16, 2012

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.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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