Sitting a little more than a day away from kickoff we are nearing the end of the long period in between the end of the Florida A&M and the beginning of the Kansas State game. Oklahoma's season has drawn mixed reviews through the first two games of the season but there's no question that Kansas State will present the strongest challenge for Oklahoma as of yet.
Obviously that's the topic of conversation in this week's roundtable where everything from offensive game plan to key players are discussed. Let's go!
Kansas State is among the top three defense in the Big XII against the run. Do you look at this as a welcomed challenge to OU's rushing attack or is this a situation where Jones can rare back and fire the ball 75-80% of the time?
Rich: Knowing the way things have worked in the past, Oklahoma will lean toward trying to beat their opponent at their own game...running the ball. However, I would like to assume that enough film has been watched to know this is a team that struggles against the pass. Landry Jones is a head above the rest of the QBs K-State has faced up to this point and will test the secondary early and often. You would have to think, Oklahoma will challenge with the rushing attack once in the redzone given the success of the attempts this season so far. Damien Williams has an uncanny ability to cut and get up field in a hurry. I would like to say we hit around 60/40 but given the way things panned out last season, I'd say we rear back and fire at a rate of 3-to-1 or 75%.
Jordan: I think it's more a product of two things; the level of competition and a poor secondary opponents have chosen to exploit. I will say they have a couple of monsters in the middle of their d-line which has certainly helped contribute to that stat and of course there is Arthur Brown, but I think it's more than a little misleading. Who are we kidding, it's Josh Heupel so 75-80% throws is a given.
Matt: I think that it comes down to exploiting a weakness and whether Heupel learned a lesson last year or not. I'm of the opinion that he has and that Oklahoma will air it out early and often against the Wildcats. However, I don't know that they can do it without a rushing attack. The Sooners don't have to be balanced to be effective on the ground. Clipping off about four yards per carry can go a long way towards keeping a defense honest. I've seen the Sooners attack with play-action calling over the first two games with possibly more zeal than I've seen in a while. The success that Damien Williams has had through the first two games will cause the Wildcats to respect the run and open up the play-action for Landry Jones.
Which offensive player not named Landry Jones has to come up huge on Saturday night?
Rich: Trey Metoyer must produce against K-State. When you look at the numbers, the Wildcats have shown they can be beat through the air. Kenny Stills has been the No. 1 option for Jones and there will need to be a complimentary second especially if Kansas St.'s run defense is what we expect it to be.
Jordan: I want to go with a running back, like really bad, but I just have no faith in Heupel to make the run game the primary focus of the offense. So I'm going to go with Trey Metoyer and I'm going to say this is his 'coming out party.' I'm going to go so far as to predict 100+ yards and two TDs for the stud freshman. We know Landry Jones and Kenny Stills are on the same page, so this offense will need a second threat Saturday night and I'm betting it's Metoyer.
Matt: I would love to see Damien Williams crack the century mark on the ground against this Kansas State defense but I'm going to have to go with a receiver here and there's no better candidate than Justin Brown. He showed flashes of what he can do in the return game two weeks ago and has come up with a few big catches as well. He's the most polished of Oklahoma's receivers and in his third game as a Sooner he'll come up huge.
Same question for the defense. Who needs to have a huge game?
Rich: Simply put, Corey Nelson. Last season, Nelson came up huge for the Sooners with 6 tackles and 2 sacks. However, that was in a different defense in which he played a different role. The Wildcats, as we all know, are going to run the ball constantly and many times will run straight at Nelson who is 6-1 219. This means Nelson will need to shed offensive linemen who have roughly 70 pounds and 3 inches on him to get at a 6-5 226 Collin Klein running downhill. The name of the game here is power vs athleticism.
Jordan: R.J. Washington. There were a couple other guys I was going to go with instead, but I went with Washington for one primary reason. I think he is the player K-State could exploit the most if he does not play with the necessary discipline. He's already shown a tendency to get too far up field with his rush and not maintain his gap/lane responsibility and Collin Klein is the exact type of player you cannot do that against. It's not even so much about getting tackles or even sacks, but more about being where he's supposed to be and staying there.
Matt: Can I pick two? No, alright then let's go with David King. There is no more important position on the defense in this game than the defensive end. Both must keep containment on the ends and not allow anything outside of them. In doing so, they'll force the play back into the middle where hopefully linebackers will be there waiting to swallow the play up. David King has been in the middle of the defense through the first two games of the season and now can return to the outside due to the return of Casey Walker. This allows King to play where he's most gifted.
Score prediction time. Lay it down for us. Do the Sooners cover the 14 point spread?
Rich: That's a tough one to predict! I expect K-State to control much of the clock giving Oklahoma limited possessions. However, the Sooners are capable of breaking off big plays in both the receiving game as well as the rushing attack. If Oklahoma is able to score quickly and early in the drive, the Wildcats will be in serious trouble. I have the game playing out to the tune of 24-14, Oklahoma.
Jordan: Originally I did not believe that they would, but as the week as progressed I've become more confident. As someone who can find any and all reasons not to be confident heading into just about any game, I'm not exactly sure where this confidence is coming from. While very talented, I'm just not sure this K-State team is as stout as last year and OU beat that team, in Manhattan, 55-17. Even with what I said, I don't think it gets quite that bad so I'll go with 38-17 Sooners.
Matt: I see this as a game where Oklahoma fans are possibly going to be frustrated at the half because I think that the Wildcats are good enough to make the game uncomfortable. However, I also see the Sooners pulling away in the second half on their way to a 35-17 win.
Big XII Power Rankings - Rank the teams from first to worst.
Rich: West Virginia, OU, K-State, Texas, Baylor, TCU, Iowa St., Texas Tech, OSU, Kansas
Jordan: Mine remains unchanged, for now. West Virginia, OU, Kansas State, Texas, Iowa State, OSU, Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, Kansas
Matt: West Virginia, Kansas State, OU, Texas, Baylor, OSU, TCU, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas