CCM: Quarterback Jake Waters leads the team in both passing and rushing yards. What have been the keys to his success this season?
BOTC: K-State's system has always been QB-stat friendly, and this year - not surprisingly - isn't any different. Waters, like many guys before him, has grown comfortable in what the system asks from him - namely pre-snap reads. He has always been a great passer, but his work this past offseason with former QB Collin Klein in reading QB-run plays and executing them has turned him from a passer who scrambles some into a complete player who is in control of most situations.
The whole key to that is Jake's want to improve overall, and it has paid off handsomely for him so far this year. As for the team, that's been great as the running back spot has been okay but really just sort of been along for the ride.
CCM: Kansas State won in their last trip to Norman. How is this team similar and how are they different from that 2012 squad?
BOTC: On offense: This team is much more balanced in its approach. Waters can throw and run effectively; whomever is at running back is able to grind out yards to a degree; and the receiver depth isn't flashy, but it is three-deep solid. This is much different than 2012 (that's not to say it's more efficient or better, just different) when KSU was a run first and throw if it's absolutely necessary unit behind Klein's skill set.
On defense: There's no man-eating Arthur Brown in the middle of this defense, and that's definitely noticeable. Past that, this current secondary hits harder without giving up a lot in terms of coverage responsibility, while the linebackers have been reasonable, even if they have battled some injuries of late. The defensive line continues to be its standard role-playing self, with Travis Britz and company adequately handling business on most downs.
Overall: That 2012 squad was stuffed full of experienced seniors, where this team has upperclassmen but not as many who played such big roles as a few years ago. Next year's K-State team will be an interesting comparison to that 2012 squad - especially on defense.
CCM: The Wildcats lead the conference in rush defense. Is the plan to load up the box and force Trevor Knight to try and beat you with his arm?
BOTC: Leading that stat this year has been the product of K-State's and defensive coordinator Tom Hayes' base philosophy, which is be consistent within assignments, keep everything in front, and play percentages that the other team (full of college-age players) will make a mistake eventually. That line of thinking has treated KSU well in recent years.
The Wildcats don't generally change strategy much from opponent to opponent, so I don't think you'll see radically different looks - especially if KSU respects Knight's ability to throw. Look for a lot of the same 4-2-5 stuff, with that fifth guy being someone who can drop in coverage while still supporting the rush defense.
CCM: Give us the names of two players on each side of the ball that need to come up huge in order for K-State to have a shot at winning this game.
Jake Waters -- If he has a bad day, forget it. Sooners win comfortably.
Tyler Lockett -- The guy put up video game numbers last year, and I don't expect that again. But, if he can get a a couple of big plays, it'll keep OU a bit more honest in coverages, and that should mean good things for KSU as it looks for other areas to exploit through the course of the game.
Danzel McDaniel -- I don't know how much McDaniel will actually line up across from Sterling Shepard, but when he (or any of the other defensive backs) is pressed into action, he can't miss. He loves to hit big, but if he gets taken out of position looking for a hit, it'll be a touchdown. He told me recently he wants teams to throw at him so he can prove his coverage skills ... welp, this may be his chance.
Ryan Mueller -- The All-American's stats have been down this year as teams have accounted for him much more than they did a year ago. That said, if he continues to command two blockers every play because of his motor, it means he's doing yeoman's work and someone else should be opened up to make a play. If Mueller doesn't command a double, and he's still not making plays, then there's a problem.
CCM: Place kicking was a big struggle for the Wildcats early in the season. Assess where KSU is right now on special teams. Asset or liability?
It's back to asset. Matthew McCrane is a RS freshman who has assumed FG and extra-point duties with no issue since the Auburn debacle opened an opportunity for him.
BOTC: Prediction time! Tell us how you see this game shaking out on Saturday.
Two extremely even teams, I think, will make for a pretty great game. I'll give the ever-so-slight nod to the home team: OU 33, KSU 31, but really, a margin that close means I think it's a final play one way or the other type scenario.