Expect Defensive Big 12 Battle Between Oklahoma and Kansas State

kansas state football

Rainman M.

Friday, October 20, 2017 1:55 PM GMT

Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 1:55 PM GMT

Kansas State (3-3) hosts No. 9 Oklahoma (5-1) Saturday at 4 PM ET in Big 12 action. Oklahoma is favored by 14 points. The game total opened at 57 but has dropped a bit. That's where we are looking. 

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"https://www.youtube.com/embed/3TGNw5GXbds", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]Free NCAAF Pick: Under 56Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners at Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State faces its third straight mobile quarterback in OU's Baker Mayfield. The Wildcats' defensive scheme prepares them for Mayfield in a key way. They aim to limit big passing plays, which are a prominent component in the Sooners' offensive philosophy, by featuring more defensive backs while depending on the versatility of their linebackers and defensive backs to be effective against the run and in pass coverage. The Wildcats rank 38th in allowing 11.5 yards per completion. Led by the size and speed of their linebackers, particularly leading tackler Trent Tanking, they should also be prepared for Mayfield's willingness to scramble. 

Additionally, the Wildcats need to account for Oklahoma's rush attack, which keeps the Sooners' offense balanced. The 'under' is 3-0 in Kansas State games this season when the Wildcats limit the opposing rush attack to less than 100 yards. Kansas State ranks 15th in allowing 3.2 rush yards per carry thanks to a defensive line led by Will Geary and his 6.5 tackles for loss. K-State's opponents runs on it less than 47% of the time, 19th-fewest nationally, because they try to attack Kansas State through the air. 

KSU has struggled as a team because of its failure to amass passing yards and in pass defense. Since Kansas State has failed to cover 4 times in a row due to these two shortcomings, Oklahoma will likely take advantage, while Kansas State remains able to limit big passing plays. Oklahoma will be able to score vs. Kansas State, but the Wildcats will make the Sooners take time to work for it.

Offensively, the Wildcats strive to control time of possession with their run-first offense. They rank 23rd with 60% of their plays being on the ground. However, due to the injury of starting quarterback Jesse Ertz, they lose a quarterback who poses an aerial threat.  Backup Alex Delton has never shown that he can pass. Last week, TCU simply blitzed heavily in order to prevent him from escaping the pocket. The Frogs constantly dared him to throw, but he could never take advantage. Consequently, TCU held Kansas State to 6 points.

Oklahoma made life difficult for Ohio State dual-threat quarterback J.T. Barrett by diversifying blitz patterns, adjusting the defensive line and otherwise putting more pressure on him to be more accurate with his throws to receivers who struggled to break free from the secondary. The Sooners' ability to contain Barrett forced the Ohio State game total to stay well 'under' because Barrett failed to live up to oddsmakers' expectations. Oklahoma typically struggles against dual-threat quarterbacks. But led by defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who is averaging a sack per game, the Sooners will force Delton to produce the kind of accuracy and deep ball ability which supersedes his capabilities as a passer, while Kansas State's running attack won't be able to bail out Delton against Oklahoma's extra men in the box.

The Verdict

Oklahoma will continue to utilize the recipe that Kansas State's past 4 opponents have found success with by relying on the passing game for their production. The Wildcats schematically and in terms of personnel are equipped to limit the Sooners' big play proclivity and thus limit their scoring. Kansas State offensively is in disarray without Ertz and lacks any effective counter against an Oklahoma defense inclined to apply pressure and contain Delton’s ball-control passing.

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