In a game that could help determine one of the participants in the Big 12 Championship Game in December, No. 9 Oklahoma State will square off with No. 22 Kansas State on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.
Both teams control their own destiny, but another loss will make it tough for either team to advance to Arlington, Texas on Dec. 3.
Both the Cowboys and the Wildcats suffered their only league loss so far to TCU, so the Horned Frogs own the tiebreaker against both teams. Texas is a half-game behind both squads, ready to move into a tie with the loser of this game while idle this weekend.
Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) has the advantage over the Longhorns by virtue of their 41-34 victory last Saturday. K-State (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) will host Texas on Nov. 5.
Spencer Sanders threw for 391 yards and two touchdowns against the Longhorns. Sanders earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
He hit Bryson Green with the game-winner with just over three minutes left. Green’s 41-yard touchdown came when he caught a pass on a slant, broke a tackle just inside the 35-yard line and raced to the end zone. Green had five catches and a career-high 133 yards.
Now the focus turns to the Wildcats. Head coach Mike Gundy knows it won’t be an easy trip to Manhattan like it used to be when he played for the Cowboys.
“Back then, they had the old turf field and the painted white Wildcat in the middle that would rip your skin off,” Gundy said Monday. “It stayed that way for all four of my years. There was nobody at those games.
“They’ve made as big of a transition in college football as anybody, in my opinion. That transition has been big. It’s been great for our conference. (The stadium) is full and they do a good job with their crowd and student section. It’s a great college environment.”
Saturday will mark the first time K-State will face top-10 teams in consecutive weeks since 2017. It’s also the first time that the Wildcats are facing three top-10 teams in one season since 2014. They defeated then-No. 6 Oklahoma 41-34 on the road on Sept. 24.
The biggest question for the Wildcats will be the health of some key players, including starting quarterback Adrian Martinez. Martinez left Saturday’s 38-28 loss at TCU after the first possession with an undisclosed injury. Backup Will Howard performed admirably before leaving with a shoulder injury late in the third quarter. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Jake Rubley, though Howard did return in the fourth quarter.
“We beat ourselves,” K-State coach Chris Klieman said after the game. “We didn’t make enough plays and in a tight ball game with two really good football teams, it comes down to making plays. I thought they made more (in) the second half. We obviously made more in the first half.
“Will played really well tonight. He made some big-time plays.”
If Martinez can’t play Saturday, it will be up to Howard to duplicate that effort against the Cowboys.
–Field Level Media