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Week 4 - Kansas State at Oklahoma
Posted Sep 19, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – Kansas State at Oklahoma

Kansas State (3-0) at Oklahoma (2-0) Sept. 22, 7:50 FOX

Here’s The Deal: The fun of the high-octane, improved Big 12 is that there’s now a fun and wild matchup each and every week, and with the possible exception of Texas vs. Oklahoma, there probably won’t be any one definitive Game of the Year matchup. However, this might be the case where Kansas State and Oklahoma can’t win the Big 12 title this weekend, but one of them could certainly lose it.

For all the good things Kansas State has done since the start of its somewhat stunning resurgence from the start of last season, there hasn’t been the one huge signature moment to take the program to a higher level of respect. The 2011 team managed to come up with a slew of nice wins over several good teams on the way to a 10-2 regular season, but at 7-0 and with the spotlight on, the Wildcats were demolished by Oklahoma 58-17. With an obliteration of Miami and easy wins over Missouri State and North Texas, everything is working for an improved Kansas State team. With winnable games against Kansas and Iowa State up next, a win over OU for the first time since the stunning 2003 Big 12 championship romp, and the first victory in Norman since 1997, might set the table for a huge showdown against West Virginia in a few weeks.

While this might be a better Kansas State team, Oklahoma is a wildcard. It has the talent and it has the upside and potential to be special, but it has to be able to put it all together like KSU has done over the first part of the season. The Sooners were rocky in the opener against UTEP and had no problems against Florida A&M, but there’s a national wait-and-see attitude for a team that has to get over a few potentially fatal flaws.

Can the O line improve? Can there be any semblance of consistency on offense? Can the punting game be better and can Landry Jones start to look like a potential NFL starter again? On the big stage, it’s time for Oklahoma to make its statement that it deserves to be taken seriously. If not, then this could be the breakout game for a Wildcat program that’s one huge win away from being the one everyone is talking about next week.

Why Kansas State Might Win: It’s all about doing the little things right. Kansas State is second in the nation in fewest penalties committed getting flagged a mere five times in three games. The offense is seventh in the country in third down conversion percentage and the team is 24th in the nation in turnover margin. Along with the solid play on both sides of the ball, the special teams are terrific, leading the nation in punt returns and seventh in kickoff returns. Kansas State isn’t going to beat itself.

Defensively, the line has done a decent job of getting to the quarterback and a strong job of getting behind the line. Miami’s Stephen Morris didn’t have any room to breathe getting sacks five times by a defense that finished the win with ten tackles for loss. OU’s front five has been a disaster in pass protection allowing three sacks to both UTEP and Florida A&M. KSU should pin its ears back and be on top of Jones for most of the night unless ...

Why Oklahoma Might Win: Landry Jones gets the short-to-midrange passing game working. The Kansas State pass defense has been a sticky spot so far with North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson completing 25-of-28 passes for 208 yards and a score last week, and with Miami quarterbacks – despite the pressure – completing 21-of-28 throws for 222 yards and a touchdown. Missouri State threw for 323 yards in the blowout loss. Jones might not be able to hit on much deep right away, but the underneath plays will be there all game long. His receiving corps should be able to make things happen on the move.

Defensively, coordinator Mike Stoops has had two weeks to prepare for KSU quarterback Collin Klein. It’s not that hard in theory; stop Klein from running and stop the Kansas State offense. This is a tough OU defense that’s been more than fine over the first two week against mediocre teams. The defensive front might be a bit thin, but the back seven should be a rock and should keep Klein’s running to a minimum. OU won’t miss tackles like Miami did.

What To Watch Out For: Klein wasn’t awful in last year’s loss to OU with 92 rushing yards and two scores, but he only threw for 58 yards and never got control of the game once the floodgates opened. So far this season his passing has improved with more downfield shots and few misfires, completing 9-of-11 passes for 210 yards with a score and a pick against Miami. This is his national spotlight moment. Robert Griffin III won the Heisman with his dramatic performance last year against the Sooners, and it’s going to take that sort of a day for the one-man-gang offense – with all due respect to leading rusher John Hubert – to come up with the upset.

While all the focus on the OU offense will be on the play of Jones and the passing game, it’s junior Damien Williams and the ground attack that has the potential to take over. A JUCO All-American, the 6-1, 215-pounder out of Arizona Western Conference has the right blend of speed and size to potentially be the No. 1 back the offense needs. The hope was that he’d be a big-time upgrade right away, and he has come through averaging 13 yards per carry with 259 yards and five scores including 156 yards and four touchdowns against Florida A&M.

What Will Happen: You don’t give the Stoops brothers two weeks to prepare for a one-dimensional offense. Oklahoma has major issues on the lines and there are concerns about consistency on both sides of the ball, but the defense will keep Klein in check and there will be just enough offensive explosion early on to make the Wildcats chase and get out of their comfort zone.

CFN Prediction: Oklahoma 34 … Kansas State 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Oklahoma -14.5 O/U: 58.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 5