MANHATTAN — Following a tough loss at the hands of West Virginia Nov. 11 by a final score of 23-28 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, K-State (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) will hit the road to try and earn bowl eligibility against No. 10 Oklahoma State (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) Saturday afternoon in Stillwater, Okla. Due to either K-State’s recent struggles, or the strength of Oklahoma State, the oddsmakers are not favoring the Wildcats in this game. As of Tuesday, K-State will enter Stillwater as 21 point underdogs to Oklahoma State.
“I love it. I love that we’re underdogs. I would much rather be an underdog than be expected to win the game. (Oklahoma State) is a great team and we have a great opportunity to go out and beat a team that’s supposed to beat us by 21 points. I’m excited for Saturday and I’m excited to get things going,” junior offensive lineman Dalton Risner said Tuesday at the Vanier Family Football Complex.
Risner noted that the steep odds against K-State surprised him.
“I was shocked. Not that I care, and it’s not a big deal. Then again, what have done to say that we’re not (21 point) underdogs? We’ve got to go in there and do something about it,” Risner said.
K-State head coach Bill Snyder talked about his team’s attitude heading into Saturday’s game as underdogs.
“I certainly have confidence and faith in them that they will battle and take it personally. They’ll get invested in trying to become a better football team. We can certainly go down there and compete. I think about the last two ballgames that we played against Oklahoma State, and both of them went right down to the last drive. We had the lead in both ballgames, and lost the lead and had the opportunity to go back and win the ballgame late, and didn’t do it. That was similar to last week (against West Virginia). In the Texas Tech ballgame, the same thing took place, and we played well enough to get the win. Now we have to be consistent,” Snyder said.
K-State will have to find a way to slow down Oklahoma State’s powerful offense in order to get a win Saturday. The Cowboys average 573.7 total yards per game (No. 2 in the nation), and are scoring 45.7 points per game (No. 2 in the nation). The offense is powered by senior quarterback Mason Rudolph. Rudolph has thrown for 3,690 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions on a 65 percent completion percentage. He ranks No. 3 in the country in pass efficiency with a quarterback rating of 171.46. He also helps Oklahoma State rank No. 2 in the country in passing offense, as he throws for an average of 378.9 yards per game. Snyder talked about what makes Rudolph such a dangerous passer.
“I am always impressed by how well young guys can work within a system that they have and be able to a have command of the system. Whether that is passing game or running game changing plays etc., and providing leadership. I think he does all of those things quite well. He gets the ball out of his hands very rapidly. He has a quick release and is a very accurate thrower on most of the throws that he makes. He has good feet. He is a guy that will not get in a hurry in the pocket. They are a pretty good offensive line, vastly improved from last year. They protect him quite well and he manages to negotiate the pocket quite well and buys up an awful lot of time. I read he leads the nation in big-play throws, I think he has 36 passes of 30 yards or more, which is pretty substantial,” Snyder said. “He is able to get the ball down field as well throwing the short things. They like the short throws as well. They are a big slant team and they throw the attachments outside. He’s got some help, he’s got some guys that can run. (Senior wide receiver James) Washington is the leader in the nation in regards to big plays. He’s gotten a lot of those long-throw big plays. There are a couple of them that are very effective and productive receivers. Iowa State held (Washington) to one catch. They did a nice job on him, but some other guys picked up the slack and, consequently, they threw the ball quiet well.”
Washington leads Oklahoma State with 1,158 receiving yards and nine
touchdowns on 53 catches. Senior safety Brogan Barry talked about what makes Washington such a tough player to defend.
“Everything makes him tough to defend. Just about anything you can name, probably makes him tough to defend. He’s a great route runner, he’s got great top-end speed, and he’s quick. He’s sure-handed. He has everything you can ever imagine to make him a tough matchup,” Barry said.
Sophomore running back Justice Hill provides a threat for Oklahoma State on the ground. He has rushed for 1,198 yards and 12 touchdowns on 206 attempts.
Freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson noted that his team won’t back down from Oklahoma State Saturday.
“I’m not backing down or scared of anything. It’s going to be a great challenge, but it’s nothing that we’re going to back down from at all. We’re going to take it head on and prepare this week just like any other week. We’ve got to play every play like it’s our last. We need to put it all out on the field. If we do that, it’s a lot easier to live with the results,” Thompson said.
K-State and Oklahoma State will kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.