Happy Gameday, Sooner Nation! As you all know, the esteemed Bill Snyder brings his ground-and-pound Kansas State Wildcats into town today to take on the Oklahoma Sooners on Homecoming Week in Norman. I seem to recall I picked this game in the staff’s preseason predictions as OU’s head-scratching upset loss this season, similar to Iowa State in 2017. Oh, and K-State in 2012 and ‘14.
I suppose we’re all on the same page when I say I may have been mistaken in my prediction, especially after seeing this edition of Snyder’s squad that has had its’ share of struggles on both sides of the ball all season. I used to fear Kansas State in most years. Typically, this matchup always had chance of being a sneaky loss waiting to happen under Bob Stoops, as his former mentor always brought his A-game when taking on Oklahoma. Although the Wildcats don’t usually beat themselves with mistakes, I don’t particularly feel there will be an upset this afternoon in Norman. I know, these are scalding-hot takes here, guys.
In case you missed it, here’s episode 7 of Oklahoma Breakdown featuring Eddie Radosevich of SoonerScoop and 107.7 The Franchise.
Head on down to the comments section for the game thread, where we’ll be asking questions, making predictions and discussing the day’s action with y’all.
TV: FOX 2:30 P.M. CT
Live Stream: FoxSportsGo
TV Commentary: Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft
The Wildcats boast the conference’s leading rusher, Alex Barnes, who comes into this contest with a league-best 788 yards and nine touchdowns. You may remember him taking a handoff on a deep sprint to the end zone on K-State’s opening drive last season in Manhattan, and the junior hopes to continue that success this afternoon in Norman, especially after seeing Army have its’ way with the OU defense in Week 4. Barnes will have his work cut out for him, though, with an improving OU defense that will likely feature a few more adjustments this week as defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill looks to simplify and fortify his unit heading into the stretch run of the season.
One of the tweaks we saw last week against TCU was that McNeill favored the four-down linemen approach a bit more than his predecessor. Ronnie Perkins saw the field more, and I expect that trend to continue. The Horned Frogs only offensive success last week against OU came in the first half through a comedy of errors, namely from some suspect officiating, and as the Sooner defense settled in, TCU was held to six points in the second half.
As we’ve come to know, McNeill prefers keeping things simple and ensuring his guys have a complete grasp on their defensive concepts and assignments, and against this type of offense, that may be just the key. With the new man up top running the show, stopping or slowing down a traditional run-heavy offense may just rely on two things: discipline and fundamentals. I suppose confidence in understanding the play would make it three things.
If ball control with Barnes and quarterback Skylar Thompson is what the Wildcats have in mind, the Sooners must be ready to get their defense off the field with following a solid game plan and just some freaking tackling. Easier said than done, but there is some hope with this unit going forward. I expect the Sooners to build on last week’s success, not forget all about it and allow 500 yards on the ground like we saw under Ruffin’s old boss.
On the other side of the ball, I don’t feel this Wildcat defense, or most across the country, has enough to slow down Lincoln Riley and Kyler Murray. K-State has shown vulnerabilities in defending the run and pass, and not many — if any — do those two things better than Oklahoma.
Though Trey Sermon isn’t expected to miss any game time, I believe Kennedy Brooks will be OU’s featured back this afternoon and will reach century mark once again. You guys remember T.J. Pledger? I do. I feel like we see him, along with a steady dose of Marcelias Sutton, tomorrow, too. OU covers the -24.5 point spread and waltzes to victory on Homecoming.
Score prediction: OU 45, K-State 17
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