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Week 10: Oklahoma State at Kansas State Preview

Oklahoma State (5-3) at Kansas State (6-1) Nov. 1, 8:00, ABC 

Here’s The Deal: Kansas State was probably under-ranked in the first playoff run at No. 9 – considering its lone loss came to No. 3 Auburn – but it’s doing just fine, winning four straight since the defeat with convincing victories over Texas Tech and Texas and a tough win at Oklahoma. But now the real work begins, dealing with three road games in the final four after facing a somewhat desperate Oklahoma State this week. 

Kansas State is Kansas State. It doesn’t screw up, its running style works, and it’s getting sharp, disciplined play across the board. It doesn’t beat itself, and while the flash might not be there, it’s not needed. It came as close as anyone outside of the SEC to beating one of the truly elite teams, but with TCU, West Virginia and Baylor still to face, it’s not going to be easy to get to 11-1 and find a spot in the playoff. First things first, get by Oklahoma State. 

The Cowboys were rolling right along after a good showing in the loss to Florida State to start the season, and then came clunkers against TCU and West Virginia – losing the two games by a combined score of 75-19 – and now it’s just a question of survival. With three of the last four games on the road including trips to Oklahoma and Baylor, it’s going to be a rough run. If OSU can’t beat Texas in a few weeks, it might not be able to get bowl eligible with a sixth win. Beating Kansas State, though, would turn the season around. 

There’s young talent and athleticism on OSU, but it’s a rebuilding year, while Kansas State is the rock full of veterans. It’s going to be a battle. 

Why Oklahoma State Might Win: Considering all the speed, experience and talent in terms of returners, it’s a shock that Kansas State isn’t far better on kickoff returns. Throw in lousy punting game, and the big misses against Auburn – to be fair, after Jack Cantele went 0-3 against Auburn, Matthew McCrane hit all six of his field goals since – and the special teams haven’t been up to normal snuff. Oklahoma State’s punting game is one of the best in the nation, averaging 41.3 yards per punt, and the return game is dangerous and deadly thanks to Tyreek Hill, and that could make the difference in a tight game. The Cowboys should win one of the key phases. 

Why Kansas State Might Win: What happened to the Oklahoma State offense? The attack is moving the ball, cranking out 436 yards against West Virginia, but it shockingly sputtered the previous two weeks against Kansas and TCU as it tries to find a little bit of consistency. Why? Turnovers. The Cowboys have given it away twice in each of the last five games, losing the turnover battle in the last four. Kansas State doesn’t have major turnover problems, doesn’t commit penalties, and doesn’t screw up. Oklahoma State has to be perfect, and it won’t be. 

Who To Watch Out For: While he’s beaten up a bit, Kansas State QB Jake Waters keeps on rolling along as one of the best unheralded playmakers in college football. He has yet to throw for more than 300 yards this season, but he’s been over 200 yards in every game. Most importantly for an offense like Kansas State’s he doesn’t turn the ball over with four straight games without an interception. Last year he completed just 3-of-7 passes for 11 yards in the 33-29 loss to OSU, but this season, it’s his gig and he’s in command. A strong runner, but not an elite one, and a good passer, but not a devastating one, he’s just a straight baller. 

What’s Going To Happen: Kansas State will keep the production going thanks to its defense. If you liked the 23-0 win over Texas, you’ll mostly be a fan of what the Wildcats will do. The Cowboys won’t come up with enough offense and enough strong drives. They don’t go on long drives and will get killed in time of possession. 

Prediction: Kansas State 31 … Oklahoma State 16
Line: Kansas State -12.5 o/u: 51.5 
Must Watch Factor: 5: Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown – 1: Mike Tyson Mysteries … 3 

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