Monthly Archives: November 2011
Typically, I save posting a game preview until Thursdays, but I figured it’s just as well to do it now. I’m pretty excited about Saturday – not only for the game, but to see all of the other games with bowl implications as well.
I’ve received positive feedback on this method of previewing games, so I continue the series for this Saturday’s showdown between the Wildcats and Cyclones.
Not a lot of defenses can completely shut down the Wildcat rushing attack. Texas was one of them, but Iowa State is not. The Cyclones are not terrible against ground attacks; they rank seventh in the Big 12, but asking them to stop an offense with a weapon like Collin Klein is a tall order. Bill Snyder was frustrated with his team’s offense against the Longhorns. Expect to see that anger taken out on ISU if at all possible, but beware: the Cyclones possess an overachieving linebacking corps looking for respect.
The Cyclones possess a number of different weapons on the ground, but none of them are superstar quality. The carries will be distributed between running backs James White and Jeff Woody, and quarterback Jared Barnett. The touches White gets will be determined by his health, as he nurses a nagging shoulder injury. He only had one carry against Oklahoma last week. Meanwhile, the K-State defense continues to show its strength, especially on the outside. Expect the Wildcats to force Iowa State to throw the ball.
As the second-ranked team in the conference against the pass, Iowa State has proved doubters wrong this season. In its last two games, the Cyclones have six interceptions, and those are against two of the best quarterbacks in the country. This secondary is one to take seriously, and it is possible that K-State will only be able to have success passing the ball if the running game is successful first.
ADVANTAGE: Iowa State
Iowa State is led by freshman quarterback Jared Barnett, who has overachieved since entering the starting position in late October with five touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s no Brandon Weeden or Robert Griffin III, but the K-State secondary has struggled at times this season against less-than-spectacular quarterbacks. The Wildcats will likely see Saturday as an opportunity to make a name for themselves in this phase of the game, and if successful, it is hard to picture K-State losing.
The kicking game has been largely inconsistent for the Cyclones. Two place kickers have seen the field this season and have missed on four extra points and six of 15 field goal attempts. In addition, the field position battle has regularly favored K-State this season, and will likely do so again Saturday. Good special teams are a signature of Bill Snyder-coached squads. Expect more of the same.
It is Senior Day at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and the Wildcats are striving for their first 10-win season since 2003. It is worth noting, however, that all of the bowl-related talk this week can be a distraction. A focused K-State team wins this one, but a few mistakes against a team like Iowa State can prove costly in a hurry. At the end of the day, why doubt Snyder?
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Kansas State 31, Iowa State 21
KSU 7 10 0 14 — 31
ISU 0 14 0 7 — 21
Last week: 3-1
Season: 56-16 (.777)
ESPN’s David Ubben: 54-18 (.750)
I stayed two games ahead of Ubben this week, as both of us picked Texas A&M over Texas. Oops.
The three matchups this week aren’t easy. This is my final “Big 12 Predictions” post of the season. My next predictions post will be for all the bowl games, probably in a week or two.
Kansas State 31, Iowa State 21 – I can see this game coming down to the wire, and I can also see it being a blowout. On one hand, it’s easy to believe the Wildcats have been distracted by all the bowl talk this week. Combine that with the fact that Iowa State is an underrated team led by an underrated coach, and you have trouble. On the other hand, Bill Snyder expressed extreme displeasure with the way his team played against Texas two weeks ago. He, perhaps more than any other coach, will not settle for anything less than great improvement this week. Which of these two scenarios will it be? I’m leaning toward the first one, just because of the great respect I have for Paul Rhoads and his defense. But a lot of different things can happen here. Don’t say I’m a terrible predictor if the Wildcats win by 24. P.S.: Keep your eye on the weather for this one. A cold rain, which is possible, would keep scoring lower.
Baylor 31, Texas 23 — Picking Baylor over Texas is like criticizing Aaron Rodgers. You don’t get to do it very often, so you have to make it count. In this case, I’m doing it under the assumption that Texas’ offense will return to its unproductive self, but I don’t know if that will happen. If it doesn’t, big trouble for the Bears. I think the Longhorn defense will do a good job against Robert Griffin III (they will slow him down, but not stop him). Overall, I’m placing my faith in Art Briles making sure his team avoids a letdown game. We’ll see.
Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35 — Oh, Bedlam. What would Big 12 football be without you? The 2011 installment doesn’t quite have the implications it did a month ago, but it should still be a classic. I will be rooting for the Cowboys in this game, to be clear, just because it would please me greatly to see Bob Stoops sent to the Alamo Bowl. But I love the Sooners’ defense, and just can’t picture Little Brother OSU beating Big Brother OU in this one. I do think the game will be back and forth, and absolutely think OSU has more than a shot. I just can’t pick it.
A look at the experiences the Wildcats have had in each bowl game they may end up participating in this season, and the chances I predict of K-State ending up there:
K-State appearances: None
Note: The Sugar is usually reserved for a matchup between the SEC champion and a BCS at-large school. The Big 12 hasn’t sent a team to the Sugar Bowl since Oklahoma last to LSU in the 2004 National Championship Game.
K-State appearances: 2 (1-1)
Last: 2001 (Beat Tennessee 35-21)
Note: The Cotton Bowl credits K-State with the survival of the game, after an unexpectedly large amount of Wildcat fans flocked to Dallas for the 1997 meeting with BYU. Cotton Bowl representatives have been to several K-State games this season and have commented encouragingly about the thought of the ‘Cats playing there again.
K-State appearances: 1 (0-1)
Last: 1998 (Lost to Purdue 37-34)
Note: When the Wildcats last played in the Alamo Bowl in 1998, it did so without much desire to be in the game at all. K-State had fallen to Texas A&M in double-overtime weeks earlier that cost it a spot in the National Championship game.
K-State appearances: 2 (1-1)
Last: 2001 (Lost to Syracuse 26-3)
Note: A lackluster 6-5 regular season placed the Wildcats in the 2001 Insight.com Bowl, but since then, the game has earned more respect as a legitimate postseason destination. When K-State played Wyoming in the game in 1993, it was known as the Copper Bowl.
Okay. The chaos is deafening. Here are my current bowl projections for BCS and Big 12 games. For K-State fans, the key game to watch next week is Houston vs. Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA Championship Game. Below my projections are the scenarios that would affect the Wildcats.
BCS National Championship Game: LSU vs. Alabama
Orange: Virginia Tech (ACC) vs. West Virginia (Big East)
Sugar: Michigan (At-large) vs. **Houston** (At-large)
Rose Bowl Game: Wisconsin (Big Ten) vs. Oregon (Pac-12)
Fiesta: Oklahoma (Big 12) vs. Stanford (At-large)
BOLD: Teams I consider to be locks.
ITALICS: Spot of most uncertainty/potential for K-State.
**: Spot of potential for K-State with loss by that team next week.
Big 12-affiliated Bowl Games
Cotton: Oklahoma State vs. Arkansas
Alamo: Kansas State vs. Washington
Insight: Baylor vs. Nebraska
Holiday: Texas vs. Utah
Texas: Texas A&M vs. Iowa
Pinstripe: Missouri vs. Rutgers
TicketCity: Iowa State vs. Southern Miss
To go into more detail on where K-State may end up, I see things like this:
If OKLAHOMA wins… OU to Fiesta, OSU to Cotton, KSU to Alamo (this is what I predict)
If OKLAHOMA STATE wins… OSU to Fiesta, KSU to Cotton, OU to Alamo
If OKLAHOMA and SOUTHERN MISS win… OU to Fiesta, OSU to Sugar, KSU to Cotton
If OKLAHOMA STATE and SOUTHERN MISS win… OSU to Fiesta, KSU to Sugar, OU to Cotton
If OU, SOUTHERN MISS and GEORGIA win… OU to Fiesta, Georgia to Sugar, OSU to Sugar, KSU to Cotton
If OSU, SOUTHERN MISS and GEORGIA win…OSU to Fiesta, Georgia to Sugar, KSU to Cotton
If UCLA beats OREGON… UCLA to Rose, no other changes
If CLEMSON beats VIRGINIA TECH… Clemson to Orange, no other changes
If K-STATE loses to IOWA STATE… K-State to Alamo, and none of the rest of this matters.
In my eyes, KSU makes a BCS bowl if…
- Southern Miss beats Houston AND LSU beats Georgia, or
- LSU beats Georgia AND Sugar Bowl selects K-State over Michigan, or
- Georgia beats LSU AND OSU beats OU AND Sugar Bowl selects K-State over Michigan
Again, these are just my predictions. Obviously, still a lot that has yet to be determined. Exhale.