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Preview: Oklahoma State @ Kansas

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The Cowboys tackle their first road game of the season.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Masquerading as a man with a reason

My charade is the event of the season

And if I claim to be a wise man, well

It surely means that I don’t know

Kansas. “Carry on My Wayward Son”

If ever a team were on a stormy sea of moving emotion, it’s the Cowboys. After lighting up the scoreboard in an impressive Week 3 win over No. 17 Boise State, it looked as if Oklahoma State was ready to dominate in all facets of the game and challenge for a Big XII title. New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles looked to be a candidate for the Broyles Award, a prize handed out to the top assistant couch in college football. Then Texas Tech came to town and delivered a 41-17 shellacking, causing many to doubt the team’s progress, leadership, and consistency.

On a stormy sea of moving emotion

Tossed about like I’m a ship on the ocean

I set a course for winds of fortune

But I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son

There’ll be peace when you are done

Lay your weary head to rest

Don’t you cry no more

No!

Fortunately for Coach Gundy, a pigskin panacea is on the way in the form of the Kansas Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1). And with that, let’s get this preview started.


Game Info:

Where: Memorial Stadium- Lawrence Kansas

When: Saturday, September 29, 2018, 11:00 A.M. CST

TV: FSN

Radio: Okstate.com or radio station list.


Get to Know the Kansas Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1):

NCAA Football: Kansas at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Long mocked as the doormats of the Big XII, the Jayhawks . . . still look like the doormats of the Big XII. But it’s improving. Kansas enters the game having posted impressive wins over Central Michigan (31-7) and Rutgers (55-14). Senior quarterback Peyton Bender hasn’t needed to throw the ball often this season, entering the game 53 of 89 for 490 yards passing, but has avoided turnovers and been just successful enough to move the chains in route to a respectable 120.6 quarterback rating. After starting in last week’s loss against Baylor, Bender appears to be the lead horse of the Jayhawk’s quarterback carousel, sharing time with speedier understudies Miles Kendrick and Carter Stanley.

Although there is an old coaching adage “If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one”, Kansas appears to be making the rotation work. Through four games this season, Kendrick and Stanley have a combined 22 carries for 100 yards, while Bender has thrown for four touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Jayhawk troika entered the Baylor game last week sporting back-to-back wins for the first time since 2011, having broken a 46-game road losing streak against Central Michigan, the second-longest in college football history. The Kansas defense seemed equally improved, sporting the nation’s best turnover margin at +12.

Against the Bears, however, new-look Kansas reverted back to old Kansas, limping into halftime down 23-0 on the way to a 26-7 loss. Oklahoma State will hope its high-powered offense can equal or exceed those results on Saturday.

What to Watch For: Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1)

Carry on, you will always remember

Carry on, nothing equals the splendor

Now your life’s no longer empty

But surely heaven waits for you

The Cowboys need to carry on. Against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State was an anemic 3 for 13 on third down conversions and were dominated in time of possession. Time and time again against the Red Raiders, the team abandoned the run, opting for ineffective passes from Taylor Cornelius to Cowboys receivers who appeared largely out-of-sync. In order to keep drives alive against the Jayhawks, Oklahoma State will need to feed their talented running back Justice Hill, who enters the game sporting a sprightly 8.4 yards per carry average (46 carries, 388 yards, 5 touchdowns). Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich would also be wise to get Hill and backups J.D. King and Chuba Hubbard more involved in the passing game.

Player to watch: Pooka Williams, Jr.

NCAA Football: Kansas at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Pooka Williams, Jr. is fast.

Against Central Michigan, Kansas’ speedy freshman tailback Anthony “Pooka” Williams, Jr. took a simple draw play and turned it into something magical, starting at a standstill position, weaseling his way through the line, avoiding an arm tackle and following his blockers to a 41-yard score. In an otherwise dismal day against Baylor, Williams broke a 72-yard run for the Jayhawk’s only touchdown. Kansas will surely look for any opportunity to utilize his game-breaking speed in space. Expect the Jayhawks to lean on the play-action pass with Bender behind center, and maybe even mix in some zone reads with Kendrick and Carter in the huddle.

Prediction:

This one should be tougher than expected in the first half, but a balanced Cowboys offense should still prevail, 52-14.