Wildcats roll into town for Halloween
Merrill Jones, The Oklahoma Daily
What: Kansas State (5-3, 3-1 Big 12) vs. No. 22 OU (4-3, 2-1 Big 12)
When: Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
Location: Norman, Okla.
Venue: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
• OU leads the all-time series, 69-17-4, and 36-6-3 in Norman.
• Since the conclusion of WWII, the Sooners have played the two Kansas schools in back-to-back games 14 times with nine sweeps.
• OU head coach Bob Stoops was an assistant coach at Kansas State under Bill Snyder from 1989-95. He served as the defensive backs’ coach in his first two seasons before moving to co-defensive coordinator.
Keys to the Game:
1) Brandon Banks.
The senior wide receiver/kick returner has been spectacular for the Wildcats this season. Banks is the team’s leading pass catcher with 33 receptions, 368 yards and one touchdown. More importantly, he averages 31.6 yards per kick return and has run three back for touchdowns already. In short, he’s the reason Kansas State is No. 5 in the country in kick returns. Special teams play often times makes the difference for a team in a game in which it is the clear underdog. The Sooners can’t let Banks run wild.
2) Jump-start the Rush.
Although the Sooners haven’t been known for their ground game this year (currently ranked No. 65 in the nation), last week’s performance against Kansas is something Bob Stoops and Co. certainly don’t want to see again. With DeMarco Murray on the sidelines due to injury, OU gained only 85 yards rushing, averaging a rail-thin 2.7 yards per rush. No announcement has yet been made reguarding Murray’s status for tomorrow’s game, but the Sooners may run into trouble if they can’t get things moving on the ground, especially since the Wildcats boast the No. 19 ranked rush defense in the NCAA (100.63 yards per game).
The only other category in which Kansas State is ranked in the Top 25 nationally besides the previous two mentioned is turnover margin, where the Wildcats are No. 14 at 1.13. As shown in previous games, the Sooners have had their fair share of trouble protecting the ball this season.
If the game is close, like against Texas, the winner will likely be the team who can avoid giving the opponent unnecessary opportunities.
They said it:
• Bob Stoops on the wide receivers: We have to show up consistently and we have been inconsistent. We need to see more consistency and continue to see more competitiveness and better plays. That’s what we’re after. It’s being able to be competitive in the moment as well as being relaxed and doing what you are capable of doing. We’re working on it.”
• Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Broyles on if there is a sense of relief knowing who is playing quarterback from now on: “We’re just out there to play. It’s bad that Sam [Bradford] has to stop playing this year and get surgery. But we’ve got goals and we’re still going to pursue those no matter who’s out there playing.”
• Junior defensive back Jonathan Nelson on Kansas State’s offense: “They don’t try to do a whole lot of motion so they confuse you. They have a bunch of different formations and will try to pound the ball right down your throat. You have to be sure you’re really on top of things against Kansas State because they have a really good offense.”