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Oklahoma Football vs. Kansas State: Game preview, storylines & predictions

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Lincoln Riley hopes the third time’s the charm as he prepares for Chris Klieman’s ‘Cats once again.

NCAA Football: Southern Illinois at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve finally reached the month of October, and it’s put up or shut up time for the No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners (4-0, 1-0) after a few narrow victories have caused them to slide down the polls. Meanwhile, a familiar foes awaits on the other side, as the Kansas State Wildcats (3-1, 0-1) are currently enjoying a stunning two-game winning streak against OU. Can the Crimson & Cream course-correct in time before it costs them in the win/loss column? Stay tuned.

It’s the first official away game of the 2021 season for Oklahoma, so you know what that means — the icy road whites are back! Any OU fan will attest that this is one of the cleanest looks in the game.

Date, Time & TV: Saturday, Oct. 2 at 2:30 p.m. CT on FOX

Line: Oklahoma -11.5 (as of Friday at 5 p.m. CT)

O/U: 52.5

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Major Storylines

Does Chris Klieman have Lincoln Riley’s number?

In two seasons at K-State, Chris Klieman has maintained the program’s blue collar, never-beat-itself mentality that Bill Snyder did such a masterful job of building. In fact, he’s even taken it to the next level by takin the Big 12 champs with every opportunity he’s had, and he’s looking to do it once again with a very mortal Oklahoma coming to Manhattan.

This game has quietly become a bit of a statement game for Lincoln Riley, who has bested every other coach in the conference outside of Klieman. It’ll be interesting to see how the chess match between these two top-notch coaches plays out in their third overall meeting.

Who will K-State trot out at QB?

Veteran Skylar Thompson was and has been Kansas State’s number one starter for years, but after going down with a knee injury earlier this season, he’s been sidelined indefinitely. The latest from the Wildcats’ camp reports that it’s likely he will not make his return this weekend, but nothing can be considered official until the game is played.

If Thompson remains a scratch, look for backup Will Howard to take the field in his place. Now, Howard has logged several starts and has seen many live game reps in his teammate’s absence, both last fall and in 2021, so he won’t be unfamiliar with the scenery, but his health will also be something to keep an eye on as he, too, suffered an injury last week in Stillwater that kept him from competing in the latter half of that game.

Deuce Vaughn is still a problem

Last year, the diminutive Wildcat tailback known as Deuce ate the Oklahoma defense’s lunch en route to a massive come-from-behind upset in Norman. In total, the 5’6 star recorded 164 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown in 12 touches. This time around, he’s another year older, and another step better. Through four games, he’s already amassed 495 total yards and six TDs. If he has a repeat performance against OU on Saturday, it could be a long and miserable day for the Sooners.

How will Spencer Rattler look after being booed?

This question has likely already been answered based off of the final drive against West Virginia, and the answer is great. While it was a tough scene to watch as the rain of boos and chants for backup QB Caleb Williams filled the nighttime air last weekend, it doesn’t seem to have negatively affected the redshirt sophomore’s confidence. If he can carry the momentum he created during the final, game-winning drive with him on the road, this Oklahoma offense might actually play with a different energy and finally begin to resemble the team it was expected to be coming into the season.

Prediction

After the offense sputtered in the second half of the Tulane game and for most of the games against Nebraska and West Virginia, it’ll be up to Lincoln Riley, Spencer Rattler and company to restore outside confidence in its capabilities. Fortunately, the Sooners shouldn’t have to score a ton of points to defeat this K-State team, but another defensive struggle could favor the Wildcats on their home field. Speaking of defense, I predict Alex Grinch’s group will force at least two turnovers, which will ultimately give OU the necessary possessions to take or maintain the lead in the fourth quarter. This contest won’t be as hairy as last weekend’s, but there will still be some concerns as Oklahoma leaves the Little Apple.

Oklahoma 27, Kansas State 20

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