No. 3 Oklahoma (1-0) takes on Kansas State (0-1) in Norman Saturday morning in its first conference game of the 2020 season.
Here's how The Daily's sports desk thinks the game will go:
Mason Young, assistant sports editor: Sooners 45, Wildcats 17
In OU’s 48-41 upset road loss to Kansas State on Oct. 26 last season, the Wildcats dominated at the line of scrimmage, tearing up the Sooner front for 213 rushing yards. A likely COVID-19 depleted offensive line that returned no starters from the 2019 group isn’t likely to produce the same holes this time around, even against an OU defensive line that lacks redshirt sophomore Jalen Redmond (opt-out) and junior Ronnie Perkins (suspended).
Expect Oklahoma’s veteran o-line to give redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler plenty of time to pick on Kansas State’s secondary. Saturday could be a serious deja vu game if Rattler executes like he did against Missouri State, throwing four touchdown passes and exiting after the first half. The anticipated return of junior running back T.J. Pledger should also bolster an OU backfield group that performed admirably but only produced 100 rushing yards against the Bears.
On defense, expect the Sooners’ linebackers to get after Kansas State senior quarterback Skylar Thompson after their strong start in OU’s season opener. Redshirt sophomore Brian Asamoah led Oklahoma with seven tackles against Missouri State while junior DaShaun White topped the stat sheet with 1.5 sacks. Expect both to be active as the Sooners look to exploit Kansas State’s weak pass protection and run blocking.
Chandler Engelbrecht, senior sports reporter: Sooners 51, Wildcats 24
Head coach Lincoln Riley hasn’t lost to the same team in back-to-back seasons, and though Kansas State has the chance to become the first team to beat the Sooners in consecutive years on Saturday, the Wildcats’ lack of depth due to COVID-19 will keep them from doing so.
One of K-State’s hardest hit position groups in its season-opening 35-31 loss to Arkansas State was the Wildcats’ offensive line. With a weakened lineup, K-State only managed 91 rushing yards and surrendered two sacks to the Red Wolves. With it appearing like the Wildcats will not be regaining any depth at offensive line for their matchup against the Sooners, I’d look for the Oklahoma defense to pick up at least three sacks and force two turnovers.
Unfortunately, the Kansas State defensive back group is also likely to be limited on Saturday due to COVID-19, which is not ideal when facing a Spencer Rattler-led passing attack. Rattler looked poised and confident in his first start for Oklahoma, and if the Wildcats struggle to keep their more-experienced players on the field this weekend, he might look even better in his second start. I’d also look for junior running back TJ Pledger to seriously boost the Sooners’ run game against K-State, if he’s cleared to play.
Caleb McCourry, sports editor: Sooners 48, Wildcats 13
On Thursday, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said, "(I) Feel confident there’ll be a game Saturday; I can’t speak for the other team. But I feel very confident that we’ll be able to play a game on Saturday." On Friday, SoonerScoop reported that there will be a game at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The concern for Kansas State being able to play this weekend is a tell of how this week will go. OU had 28 players either in quarantine or isolation in its 48-0 rout over Missouri State on Sept. 12. As of Monday, OU Athletics announced that out of 583 student athletes tested for COVID-19, there were only 20 active cases. If Kansas State is struggling with health against a healthier Sooner squad, I expect OU to get an easy revenge win over the Wildcats.
Oh, and it's almost quarterback Spencer Rattler's birthday, which is Sept. 28. He got a new hairdo (as seen on his Thursday Instagram story) and is itching to get his first start against a conference foe. It's not the hottest take, but Rattler is going to be on.