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Sooners: Previewing Kansas State

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If the Sooners thought Texas was a tough test last week in the Cotton Bowl, they better strap in this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. when they take on Kansas State in Manhattan. Here’s a breakdown of what OU will face when it plays the Wildcats.  

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Offense

Kansas State fans may not have bought into quarterback Joe Hubener at the beginning of the season, but after a four touchdown performance in a narrow loss to No. 2 TCU last week, it’s clear the Hubener fits perfectly into Bill Snyder’s gameplan.

Hubener has started the last four games for the Wildcats and has thrown for 827 yards and four touchdowns through the air. This guy is a game manager, and we all know that Snyder loves game managers.

Kansas State leads the Big 12 in time of possession (34:02), and that’s mostly due to the way Hubener leads the offense. He’s known as a dual-threat guy, and averages 15.9 yards per completion while rushing for six scores on the ground. His favorite target through the air is Deante Burton, who has 15 catches on the season.

Joining Hubener in the backfield is freshman running back Justin Silmon (Union HS), who averages 56.4 rushing yards per game. Another threat at running back is Charles Jones, who rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Horned Frogs.

Defense

Defensive backs Donnie Starks (30 tackles) and Kaleb Prewett (26 tackles) are amongst the team leaders in tackles, and are joined in the secondary by Nate Jackson and Danzel McDaniel.

Linebacker Elijah Lee is probably the most impactful player of the group, totaling 30 tackles (4 TFL) and two interceptions. Will Davis (24 tackles) is another Wildcat linebacker that can step up and put a big hit on an opponent.

The OU offensive line has struggled all season, so look for defensive end Marquel Bryant to have a big game. Bryant leads the Wildcats with three sacks on the season while Davis has 2.5 of his own.

Kansas State is a middle of the pack defense, and the Wildcats give up an average of 396 yards per game and nearly 25 points. If Baker Mayfield’s in a rhythm on Saturday, look for him to put up big numbers against this Wildcat defensive group.

Special Teams

The Wildcat return game could cause a problem for the Sooners on Saturday, as they lead the conference in return yards per attempt with 26.4. Kansas State is able to start nearly every drive with solid field position, and it can thank senior defensive back Moran Burns for that. Burns leads the conference with 33.7 yards per return, and he’s an electric playmaker for KSU. He opened up the Wildcats’ season with a 100-yard return against South Dakota.

Kicker Jack Cantele is pretty reliable, and has made 8-of-9 field goal attempts while nailing all 15 of his extra points.

Oklahoma will be hoping they get more consistency from its return game after struggling to start the season.

Will the Sooners win?

It won’t be easy, but history says the Sooners will get the job done on Saturday. Bob Stoops is 5-0 in Manhattan, and OU hasn’t lost back-to-back regular season games since 1999.

The Sooner offense could have a huge game, and I expect the defense to play with a chip on its shoulder after getting manhandled by Texas. My score prediction: OU 42 KSU 32.

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