Another week has come and gone as the Oklahoma Sooners decimated former OU quarterback Austin Kendall and the West Virginia Mountaineers 52-14, improving the Crimson and Cream to 7-0 on the season.
Next up is a trip to the Little Apple this weekend to take on the Kansas State Wildcats and first year head coach Chris Klieman.
The main question on most Sooner fans minds coming into this one is pretty simple: Is there any reason to be concerned about this matchup at all?
So let’s take a look at that, and go through some of the reasons why this game could potentially be a trap game scenario for Lincoln Riley’s squad.
Kansas State Is Pretty Well Coached
For those that aren’t real familiar with Chris Klieman, he comes with a pretty good track record coming over from FCS powerhouse North Dakota State.
As expected, he has brought with him a really fundamentally sound approach and it has translated onto the field so far.
Kansas State ranks 33rd in college football in fewest penalty yardage this season. In addition to that, they are also tied for 22nd in the country in fewest turnovers given up.
Simply put, the Wildcats don’t really beat themselves all that much. They may not be the most talented team in the country, but they are going to make you beat them and not beat themselves by making mistakes.
Coming into the season, a big thing Alex Grinch wanted to focus on was forcing turnovers – that hasn’t really happened all that much.
So while the OU defense has been playing well, don’t expect a lot of gift scores off turnovers and great field position constantly for Hurts and the offense, or the Wildcat offense shooting itself in the foot with penalties.
Oklahoma Might Just Be Getting a Little Bored
The Sooners so far have come out hungry and ready to go basically every week, minus maybe the Kansas game. But, it would almost be hard to blame them for coming out a least a little flat this weekend.
It is another 11:00 kickoff, against a team they are heavily favored against, before a bye week. It kind of has the makings of a game that they could get off to a bit of a sluggish start.
This also goes back to the previous point of Kansas State not beating themselves, Oklahoma is going to have to at least play somewhat well to win this game.
Kansas State isn’t especially good, but they aren’t Kansas either. This team will likely be a bowl team.
If OU gets off to that crummy start like they had in Lawrence, it won’t be nearly as easy for them to overcome it and still win in blowout fashion.
Not saying I necessarily think Oklahoma definitely will come out a little flat and sluggish, but it certainly wouldn’t shock me either.
Manhattan Can be a Tricky Place to Play
Yes, I say this fully aware that, amazingly, Kansas State hasn’t bested Oklahoma in Manhattan since 1996.
But, that does not mean there hasn’t been some close calls, with two main instances seeming most relevant.
The first being the last time Oklahoma was 7-0, in 2004. They went to Manhattan as the #2 ranked team in the country (at the time 5-0) to take on the 2-3 Wildcats.
The game was 24-21 OU heading into the 4th quarter.
It ended at 31-21, but obviously this was a big scare for a Sooner team that would go undefeated and play in the National Championship game that season against a team that was severely outmatched on paper.
The other instance that seems perhaps most relevant was two years ago, in 2017.
#9 Oklahoma rolled into Manhattan at 5-1 still fully in the College Football Playoff hunt. The Wildcats stood at 3-3, but took a 21-10 lead into the half.
If it wasn’t for some serious Baker Mayfield and Rodney Anderson heroics in the late stages of that game, Kansas State would have pulled off the shocker. It looked for all the world that the Wildcats were the better team that day.
Then, of course, that Oklahoma team went on to go to the CFP and fall to Georgia in the Rose Bowl.
The point being, Kansas State has come very close to stunning the Sooners in spots very similar to this one, don’t be surprised if they do it again.
So, is it a close call?
I don’t think so in the end, but I do honestly expect a bit of a slow start to this one.
Maybe a first quarter that ends in the 7-7 range, and still fairly close going into the half before Oklahoma pulls away in the second half.
This Oklahoma team is very good and I don’t believe the Wildcats have enough to pull off this upset but I think with all the factors coming in (early kickoff, disciplined team, tough environment), Kansas State will hang around in this one early.
Right around the time Sooners fans on Twitter begin to panic, the offense will settle in and Oklahoma will still win the game by at least 20+.
Oklahoma’s eighth game of the season against the Kansas State Wildcats will take place this Saturday at 11:00 (again) at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas on ABC and heard over the air as always right here on 107.7 The Franchise.