The Oklahoma Sooners take on their first ranked opponent of the 2012 season, Saturday, when they face No. 15 Kansas State. Here's a position-by-position breakdown of the game between the Wildcats and the Sooners.
Both teams have experienced quarterbacks directing the offense in OU's Landry Jones and KSU's Collin Klein. This season, Klein has added an improved passing gamed to his bullish running ability. Klein is completing almost 73 percent of his passes through three games this season. Jones, on the other hand, is completing 62.5 percent through two games. Jones is still the better passer, but Klein's ability to run the football makes a big difference. SLIGHT EDGE: Oklahoma
The Wildcats have a very good running back in John Hubert, and obviously Klein's running threat could be counted here as well. However, the Sooners have five backs that can run the ball just as effectively as Hubert can. OU's depth at running back is a luxury few teams across the country can boast, especially when those top five rushers are all averaging at least 5.6 yards per carry. EDGE: Oklahoma
This position is a real toss-up. You could argue the Sooners have superior talent to KSU here, but the Wildcats have a senior and a junior in Chris Harper and Tramaine Thompson, respectively, that give the Wildcats the edge in the experience department. Factor in return whiz Tyler Lockett, and KSU has a fairly potent group of receivers. However, the Sooners are very talented in their own right, with Kenny Stills, Trey Metoyer, and Justin Brown leading the group. OU is hoping they've all developed more consistent chemistry with Landry Jones in the bye week. EDGE: Push
Kansas State only returned two starters from last season on the offensive line, but that hasn't slowed down the Wildcats rushing attack through three games, and they've only given up two sacks. The Sooners have given up six sacks, but coaches put the blame on the quarterbacks for four of those. The Sooners are also having success running the football, but the opposition for OU has been much weaker than what the Wildcats have faced. EDGE: Kansas State
Both teams boast veteran defensive lines, with seniors making up all four positions for both teams. KSU has racked up seven sacks along the defensive line, while the Sooners have 6.5. Even though Ronnell Lewis and Frank Alexander are gone from last season's team, the Sooners made mincemeat of the KSU offensive line last season, and several players return from that team. On the flip side, Landry Jones had tons of time to throw. EDGE: Oklahoma
The Sooners have been playing mostly out of a 4-2-5 base defense, with Tom Wort and Corey Nelson occupying the linebacker positions. However, thanks to KSU's rushing attack, we can expect a lot more 4-3 looks, with Joseph Ibiloye and Aaron Franklin getting time at the third linebacker position. KSU linebacker Arthur Brown leads the Wildcat defense with 28 tackles, and also has three tackles for loss and a sack. Brown's a great player, but top to bottom, the Sooners have a better group. EDGE: Oklahoma
Kansas State has a pair of great defensive backs in cornerback Nigel Malone and safety Ty Zimmerman. However, the Wildcats have been surprising porous this season, allowing an average of 251 yards per game through the air, and snagging just one interception. The Sooners only have a single interception as well, but there is no denying the vast improvements made by new defensive coordinator/secondary coach Mike Stoops this season. The Sooners are loaded with talent in the secondary and should make it a tough day for Collin Klein throwing the ball. EDGE: Oklahoma
Michael Hunnicutt has only attempted two field goals for OU, making a 38-yard attempt and missing a 44-yarder against UTEP. Tress Way is averaging 44.7 yards per punt, and six of his nine punts have been downed inside the 20. KSU is splitting punting duties between senior Ryan Doerr and redshirt sophomore Mark Krause. Krause is averaging 38.5 yards per boot, while Doerr is a bit ahead at 44.7. Senior Anthony Cantele is 4-5 on field goal attempts this season, but his long is 25 yards, and he missed a 38-yarder against Miami. EDGE: Push
Bob Stoops became a respected coach under Bill Snyder's tutelage, so this is a tricky one to call. Snyder is essentially the teacher, while Stoops is the pupil. However, this is Stoops 14th season as a head coach, so that metaphor is long expired. Stoops and Snyder are both surrounded by excellent coaching staffs, but Stoops has had Snyder's number in head-to-head matchups. EDGE: Oklahoma
Let these stats marinade for a quick second. Under Bob Stoops, Oklahoma has face 14 ranked opponents in Norman. The Sooners are 14-0 in those games. That's impressive. What's more impressive is that OU has beaten all but one opponent by at least 10 points, and boasts an average margin of victory of 28.2 points. The one opponent who didn't lose by double figures? Snyder's Wildcats, who fell to OU, 38-37, in 2001. This won't be a massacre a la 2008 Texas Tech, but the home field advantage definitely gives OU a big help.
OU 38, Kansas State 24