Whereas November used to be the gauntlet for Oklahoma State football, November 2017 is one of the milder months in recent history. After traveling to Ames the week before, the Cowboys return to the friendly confines of Boone Pickens Stadium to take on their toughest opponent of November: the Kansas State Wildcats.
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Oklahoma
When: November 18, 2017
Time and Channel: TBA
2016 Record: 9-4 (6-3 Big 12)
Key Losses: WR Deante Burton, RB Charles Jones, OL Terrale Johnson, DB Donnie Starks, LB Elijah Lee, LB Charmeachealle Moore, DB Dante Barnett, DE Jordan Willis
Key Returners: QB Jesse Ertz, WR Dominique Heath, WR Byron Pringle, DB D.J. Reed, DB Duke Shelley, DE Reggie Walker
Kansas State continues to fly under the radar with the immortal Bill Snyder at the helm, last year posting a 9-4 record, but never really getting the national attention with both the Pokes and OU in the same conference. This season, Kansas State took a big hit on the defensive side, but keeps their offensive arsenal mainly intact, including Jesse Ertz and breakout wide receiver Byron Pringle.
The Cardiac Cowboys were alive and well in Manhattan last year, as the Cowboys and the Wildcats were in an old-fashioned barnburner. In fact, the game came down to the last play. Thanks to a Jordan Sterns interception in the end zone, the Cowboys escaped "The Little Apple” 43-37. Chris Carson went beast mode, trucking defenders and shedding tackles with ease en route to 69 yards and a touchdown. Mason Rudolph threw for 457 yards and five touchdowns, while James Washington had 117 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Blake Jarwin got loose in the secondary twice to get 96 yards and a touchdown on two receptions.
Former Oklahoma State kicker Ben Grogan also hit the go-ahead FG to give the Cowboys the lead in the waning moments of the game. Coach Snyder then made one the classiest moves I have ever seen.
I have so much respect for Coach Synder and the Kansas State Football program, so cool for him to do this! pic.twitter.com/E6rhnoMHro— Ben Grogan (@Ben__Grogan) October 9, 2015
It can’t be easy congratulating a player who handed your team a loss, but Snyder took it like a champ and proved sportsmanship isn’t completely dead.
Player to Watch - Offense: WR Byron Pringle
Last season, Pringle led the Wildcats in receiving yards (631), receiving touchdowns (4), all-purpose yards (1,364) and receiving yards per game (48.5). There's no reason to think he won't don't the same this year.
The junior was on the 2016 All-Big 12 Underclassmen Team as a Kick Returner, and was an honorable mention to the All-Big 12 Team as a WR.
With Pringle and the Wildcats’ reception leader Dominique Heath both returning for their junior seasons, QB Jesse Ertz has a decent 1-2 punch on the outside. Mind you, it’s nothing like the riches Mike Gundy and Mike Yurcich have at their disposal, but it isn’t bad. They will be a decent test for the Cowboys’ secondary that doesn’t have a lot of game experience.
Player to Watch - Defense: DB D.J. Reed
As I mentioned earlier, the Kansas State defense took a hit from last year. The Wildcats lost three of their top four tacklers, including Elijah Lee, Charmeachealle Moore and Dante Barnett. Sack leader and 2016 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jordan Willis is now playing in Cincinnati.
D.J. Reed, however, will put on purple and gray again this season, and Kansas State will need its junior DB to step up and lead in the secondary. Last season, Reed had 75 tackles, which was tied for second on the team, and three interceptions, which was tied for best on the team.
When facing the air-raid offense that Oklahoma State looks to run this season, opposing DBs will have nightmares. Reed will have to rally his teammates to do what they can against Mason Rudolph and the plethora of wide receivers at his disposal.
The Bottom Line:
While Kansas State returns much of its offense, it lost a huge chunk of the defense that kept them in games. Can the younger guys step up and take over the production of the departed? Maybe against other teams, but once again, the Oklahoma State offense won’t be stopped by a rebuilding defense.
Rudolph and Co. will continue to rock and roll, and by game 10, the defense should be able to stop Jesse Ertz and the Wildcats. Don’t expect the game, which will be played in front of a full and rowdy Boone Pickens Stadium, to be as close and nerve-wracking as it was last year. However, Kansas State is capable of shocking someone. Gundy can’t give them any reason to feel like they can win the game. Now that OSU has made it through the gauntlet in the middle of the schedule, the Cowboys can’t take their foot off the pedal.
Kansas State 21
Oklahoma State 38
OSU record through week 10: 10-0, 7-0 Big 12