Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State Wildcats Look To Finish Strong In Sunflower Showdown


Nov 23, 2013; Manhattan, KS, USA; Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

 

Who: Kansas State (6-5 Overall, 4-4 Big 12) vs. Kansas (3-8 Overall, 1-7 Big 12)

Where: Memorial Stadium; Lawrence, Kansas

When: Saturday 11AM

TV: Fox Sports 1

The Kansas State Wildcats’ final home of the season last week resembled the  first home game in that the Wildcats could not capitalize on opportunities’ that were right there for the taking. K-State’s run defense has been really good in the last four games prior to the Oklahoma game. Last week, the Wildcat defense was not up to the task of stopping Oklahoma’s running attack, they and let running back Brennan Clay to run for 200 yards against them in the Wildcats’ 41-31 lost to Oklahoma.

Now, with Kansas State sitting at just a game over the .500 mark at 6-5 on the 2013 season, 4-4 in the Big 12 conference,  the Wildcats head into Lawrence to take on in-state rival, the Kansas Jayhawks. K-State is facing a team that has struggled all year to find any kind of rhythm.

The game last week against the Sooners saw the Wildcats have opportunities down the stretch that could possibly have put them over the top. Late game mistakes like turnovers and key mishap on special teams, cost K-State.

For the second time this season wide receiver and special teams standout Tyler Lockett had a record breaking performance that earned him Big 12 special teams player of the week.

Earlier this season against Texas, Lockett racked up over 230 yards receiving on the road. In Manhattan versus the Sooners, Lockett surpass that by achieving 278 yards on 12 catches and 3 touchdowns. Also, Lockett produced 448 all-purpose yards, which was the second most in Big 12 history.

Given the ups and downs for Kansas State this season, Lockett has been one of the bright spots for the Wildcats all season long, and has proven to be one of the better wide receivers in the conference. Going into the game on Saturday against Kansas, Lockett has 68 receptions, 1103 yards, and 8 touchdowns in 2013.

Quarterback Jake Waters, accumulating most of his yards was by throwing to Lockett ,had a big day but his 2 inceptions in the second half was the turning point in the contest.

Crazy things can happen in rivalry games. The last time Kansas was at home, they defeated West Virginia two weeks ago. For the Wildcats to avoid falling into that trap in Lawrence, they will need to capitalize on the opportunities they get in this game.

Kansas State is the better team but Head Coach Bill Snyder knows he will have a challenge ahead of them. K-State will need to come out of the gate fast like they have against KU in the last 4 games against the Jayhawks. If the Wildcats trip up early in this game, lookout – this the 111th sunflower showdown game and it could get very interesting.

Things to Look 4:

Run Game…Come Back

There was really no type of offensive balance last week against Oklahoma. Jon Hubert was nowhere to be found. When he did get some carries, there was nowhere to go. This will be Hubert’s final regular season game. Kansas State will need to import him back into the game plan if the Wildcats are going to defeat the Jayhawks. Kansas comes into this contest giving up 200 yards on the ground against Iowa State last week. Kansas State needs to bring back the running game if they are going to be successful.

Daniel Sams

All season long, backup quarterback Daniel Sams has giving the Wildcats that extra spark. Last week,  after just a few plays, there has no sign of Sams for the rest of the game because K-State fell behind early to the Sooners. Sams was not a factor in that football game, but look for Sams to be in the game plan in Lawrence. Sams is too important of a player not to be on the field for this game. Sams has rushed for nearly 800 yards this season; look for him to have a nice game.

Mirror Image

After getting ran over against the Sooners running game last week, the Wildcat defense will face the a pretty good running back in James Sims, one of the few bright spots for the Jayhawks this season. James Sims provides a big threat for KU on the ground, as he has run for over 1000 yards this season. If the Cats cannot shut him down, it could be a repeat of last week.

Slowing down Sims and freshman quarterback Montell Cozart will be one of the keys this game for Kansas State. The Wildcats need to force Kansas to throw the ball. The Jayhawks ranked nationally 117th  in passing. Even without senior leader, Ty Zimmerman on the field, the Wildcats would like to take advantage of that here.

Ryan Mueller was not much of a factor last week, but look for him to cause havoc in the backfield. Mueller is still ranked 8th nationally in sacks. The theme here for the defense is slow down Kansas strong suit, which is the running game.

X-Factor

Tyler Lockett has been an absolute nightmare for Kansas in the last two  Sunflower Showdowns. Last time the Wildcats were in Memorial Stadium, Lockett torched the Jayhawks on a 100-yard kickoff return for a score and caught a touchdown pass. This year, Waters has looked to Lockett almost exclusively, making him the number #1 favorite target. Look for Lockett find the end zone again, and there is a good chance him to do something big in the return game.

 

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Tags: Jake Waters Kansas Jayhawks Kansas State Wildcats Ryan Mueller Tyler Lockett