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OU Football: Previewing The Sooners' Matchup With Kansas State

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Riding their first two-game winning streak of the season, the No. 19 Oklahoma Sooners will look to continue their hot-streak when they host Kansas State this Saturday at 11 a.m.

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The Wildcats will roll into Norman following a home win over Texas Tech on Saturday, which marked Billy Snyder’s 300th game as head coach at KSU.

“On to Kansas State here this week,” OU head coach Bob Stoops said. “Coach [Bill] Snyder and Kansas State always an excellent football team, 3-2. Lost a tight one-point game to West Virginia at West Virginia just a little while ago. A team that always plays hard, plays well, very sound fundamentally.

“Obviously the last two times they’ve come here they’ve come here and beat us. We’re very aware of that, so we need to keep improving.”

Here are a few things to watch for as the Sooners try to make it two straight wins against the Wildcats:

Kansas State’s really good on defense

The Wildcats may not have the most potent offense in the conference, but there’s no question Kansas State has the best defense in the Big 12. K-State sits atop the conference in both total defense and scoring defense while allowing opponents to only 310.2 yards per contest and only 17.3 points per game.

“Again, very sound fundamentally, very disciplined in their structure in the way they set their defense, and then good play,” Coach Stoops said. “Guys who play hard, tackle well, can be disruptive up front with [Jordan] Willis, so good structure and good players.”

KSU has a tenacious group on that side of the ball, and Coach Snyder is methodical in his approach in that he finds ways to completely cover up any weakness the Wildcats may have. KSU limited Texas Tech to 26.5 points below its season average and only 10 points in the second half.

Defensive end Jordan Willis is an elite pass rusher, while his toughness is one of the driving forces of that unit. Willis has 20 tackles on the year, six for sacks, while junior linebacker Elijah Lee is another disruptive force on defense. Lee has a team-high 41 tackles along with a sack and an interception.

Not only is Kansas State’s defense good, but they’re confident as well.

Freshman defensive end Reggie Walker said that after talking to Willis about OU running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, he came to the conclusion that both guys aren’t too hard to bring down.

“He would just tell me that they’re pretty easy to tackle,” Walker said of his conversation with Willis. “If you do your assignments, wrap up and just get them down, they’ll go down if you hit them hard.”

It was a fairly bold assessment by Walker, especially since both Perine and Mixon are two of the top running backs in the country, but it just shows how confident KSU’s defense really is.

Oklahoma will likely be motivated by the comments, but there’s no hiding the fact that KSU will present the toughest defensive test the Sooners will see throughout the rest of the year.

Stoops and Snyder very familiar with each other

Before Coach Stoops became the winningest coach in Oklahoma football history, and even before he was the defensive coordinator at Florida, he served as an assistant for Coach Snyder at Kansas State from, 1989-95.

Stoops has referred to Snyder as one of his mentors in the past, but said he doesn’t enjoy coaching against his former boss.

“No I don’t enjoy coaching against Coach Snyder’s teams, they’re too good all the time,” Coach Stoops said. “Coach and I, we aren’t much on phone conversations but we always visit and catch up and spend time when we’re at coach’s functions like Big 12 coach’s meetings or we always find time to catch up with each other and sit down for a while.”

Stoops also made sure to mention what Snyder has done for the program, seeing he took over a KSU team that won zero games in 1988.

“I’ve got great admiration and respect for Coach and loved my time there.,” he said. “I say it all the time, those were a great seven years that I was there and learned a ton being there from the ground up. I don’t think anybody still has any idea how down and down that program was when we walked in there, so learned a great deal and still have great friendships from there.”

Stoops is 10-3 against Kansas State since taking over at Oklahoma in 1999.

Sooners will face dual threat quarterback, again

Oklahoma has plenty of experience squaring off with dual threat quarterbacks, seeing OU had to game plan for Houston’s Greg Ward, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and TCU’s Kenny Hill so far this season, but the Sooners didn’t have an incredible amount of success when it came time to slow those guys down.

That being said, the Sooners will face a similar test on Saturday when they go up against Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz. The junior has thrown for 688 yards and five touchdowns through the air, while Ertz has the ability to get the job done on the ground as well, adding 253 rushing yards and three more scores with his legs.

Ertz has been a calming force for the KSU offense, and puts the Wildcats in a better position to have success than they were last year when Oklahoma went to Manhattan and came back with a 55-0 win.

“It’s a very complete team, this is a much better team than we played a year ago,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “They have better skill, they have more consistency at quarterback, they’re young on the offensive line but they’re coming together and the backs been there for years, so this will be a much different team than we faced a year ago.”

QUOTABLE:

Steven Parker on Kansas State being a potential trap game…

“To me, it’s another challenge, it’s the next game on our schedule and all we can do is basically prepare just like we prepare for Texas and everybody else we have played. It’s going to be on us, I don’t think we’re going to take Kansas State lightly at all because they’re not a light team, they’re not a bad team, they’re a good football program especially from Bill Snyder coaching those guys up. We’re definitely going to have to be ready and have our hats on.”

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