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Pre-game reading: Must win game in Manhattan

It’s going to be OSU’s toughest game

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Oklahoma State
Oct 3, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver James Washington (28) carries the ball as Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Danzel McDaniel (7) defends during the second quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we saw the best of Oklahoma State. Mason Rudolph was pinpoint, many different receivers got involved early, and the defense did Oklahoma State things by balling out and creating turnovers.

The win catapulted the Cowboys to No. 18 in the first College Football Rankings, keeping the Cowboys back on track to win a Big 12 championship. Things seemed bleak after the Cowboys started 2-2, but here we are in November with the Pokes in second place in the conference.

Oklahoma State has an enormous game in Manhattan, Kansas today, and this could very well be the toughest game the Cowboys have played this season. It will certainly be the rowdiest environment the Pokes have played in this year, and a Bill Snyder coached team is never an easy out.

With that being said, Oklahoma State is playing some good football right now and the Kansas State defense is questionable.

But Kansas State is 4-0 at home, and the Cowboys have only won twice in Manhattan since 1988.

If the Cowboys play their best, they’ll be sitting pretty with three winnable games left on their schedule. And if they struggle in a hostile environment, you can pretty much kiss goodbye a Big 12 championship.

Kansas State has the 105th ranked defense in the country. In comparison, Oklahoma State is 99th.

Opponents are averaging over 450 yards of total offense a game against the K-State defense, while Mason Rudolph is averaging over 316 yards a game through the air.

And since Justice Hill took over as RB1 against Baylor, Hill is averaging 106 yards a game. Oklahoma State has the opportunity to put up some big time yards and points, while the K-State offense is not built for shootouts.

The Wildcats offense isn’t much to speak of either. K-State has the 58th ranked scoring offense, scoring a little under 30 points a game. The main reason for the struggles on offense point towards their 108th ranked pass offense.

Jesse Ertz is the probable starting quarterback, but don’t be surprised if he has a short leash and is pulled for some fifth string walk on wide receiver if he struggles. Ertz is a dual-threat quarterback, who has passed for 1,078 yards and rushed for 477 yards and 13 total touchdowns.

Oklahoma State has struggled with dual-threat quarterbacks in the past, but Ertz is no Patrick Mahomes.

The Wildcats are ranked 85th in the country in rushing offense, and have four decent running backs that could all see multiple carries.

Oklahoma State simply has better athletes than Kansas State, and the Wildcats only hope is to ride some early momentum from the crowd all the way to the finish line. If the Cowboys can jump out to an early start, they could coast to a win.

But Manhattan is as tough an environment as any to win a football game in the Big 12. K-State is down, but they won’t go down without a fight at home.

Don’t expect the Cowboys to win big, but it’s good to feel confident. Oklahoma State is playing their best football of the year, and with how wide open the Big 12 is, the Pokes know that they still have tons to play for this year. The Cowboys are going to put up points, and I don’t think the Wildcats will be able to keep up.

This is going to be the toughest game the Cowboys play until Bedlam, and them K-Staters love their football. If the Pokes can survive Manhattan, a conference championship will be there for the taking.