(TNS) — Kansas is the biggest underdog in FBS football this week, wrapping up its season with a road game against 8-3 Oklahoma State. Four KU players — Dorance Armstrong, Daniel Wise, Joe Dineen and Jeremiah Booker — also will give way as captains to the seniors following last week’s pregame handshake snub against Oklahoma.
KU key to success: Big plays. Oklahoma State — like Oklahoma last week — has a glaring weakness in that its defense has been susceptible to big plays. The Jayhawks weren’t able to get anything going against the Sooners last week, though, averaging 2.5 yards per play. Look for KU to force-feed receiver Steven Sims while hoping he can make something happen.
Oklahoma State key to success: Just be sound. The Cowboys’ have a net zero turnover margin this year, but they sometimes have been careless, and their 21 giveaways are third-worst in the Big 12. KU won’t be able to keep this competitive without multiple mistakes from Oklahoma State, so ball security should be priority No. 1 for the home team Saturday.
Oklahoma State player to watch: Mason Rudolph will be the second straight elite quarterback KU has faced. He leads the nation with 374 passing yards per game, and though KU was able to slow Baker Mayfield a bit last week, the challenge will be great again in the finale.
Key matchup: Oklahoma State’s offensive line vs. KU’s defensive line. The Jayhawks, with Armstrong and Wise, have talented-enough players to get in the backfield to disrupt the timing of one of the nation’s best passing offenses. Motivation will be key, though, as this likely will be a tough game to get fired up for … especially if the Jayhawks fall behind quickly.
Jesse Newell’s prediction: Oklahoma State 55, Kansas 17. KU coach David Beaty has talked all season about how his guys have continued to play hard through adversity, and this will be another test to see if his assertion is correct. This game will likely get out of hand at some point, so it’ll be worth watching to see if KU’s players continue to give full effort.