(TNS) — At 5-5, Kansas State is looking to pull an upset at Oklahoma State that would make the Wildcats bowl eligible and give them their first win over a ranked team this season. At 8-2, Oklahoma State is looking for a bigger prize: a Big 12 championship. The Cowboys can keep their conference title hopes alive with a win over K-State.
K-State key to success: Score in unconventional ways. K-State needs to dominate on special teams and score on defense to have realistic hopes of pulling off an upset in Stillwater. Oklahoma State ranks second nationally in total offense (573.7 yards), and K-State doesn’t have enough firepower to win a shootout. Oklahoma State is weak on special teams. Perhaps K-State can take advantage with some long D.J. Reed returns. Oklahoma State will pile up yardage, but K-State can force turnovers.
Oklahoma State key to success: Stay out of Mason Rudolph’s way. Rudolph, Oklahoma State’s senior quarterback, has thrown for more yards (3,690) than any quarterback in college football this season. That’s bad news for a K-State secondary that has allowed an average of 401.25 passing yards over its past four games. The Wildcats can’t stop the pass. The Cowboys are one of the nation’s best passing teams. Mike Gundy would be wise not to over think things and simply let Rudolph work his magic.
Oklahoma State player to watch: Marcell Ateman. James Washington gets more attention as Oklahoma State’s top receiving threat (53 catches for 1,158 yards and nine touchdowns) but Ateman is every bit as good. And he sometimes benefits from the extra attention defenses throw at Washington. Ateman has 829 yards and eight touchdowns on 44 catches this season.
Key matchup: Skylar Thompson vs. Oklahoma State pass rush. As a redshirt freshman, Thompson is still learning how to remain in the pocket and make tough throws against a pass rush. He scrambled more often than he needed to in his first start against West Virginia last week, and K-State struggled to move the ball. He will need to show more poise and lead the Wildcats on touchdown drives in a high-scoring game against the Cowboys.
Kellis Robinett’s prediction: Oklahoma State 41, Kansas State 31: The Wildcats haven’t won at Boone Pickens Stadium since 1999, but they always play the Cowboys tough in Stillwater. They lost their last five trips by a total of 19 points. Expect a similar result this time around. K-State will embrace the underdog role and keep things closer than expected, but Oklahoma State will ultimately win.