|No. 5 Oklahoma steamrolls into game at Kansas State|
Teams with drastically different goals will square off Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.
No. 5 Oklahoma, which has participated in three of the five previous College Football Playoffs, looks to continue its charge to making it three in a row. Kansas State is coming off a close win over TCU and is merely trying to inch closer to bowl eligibility in coach Chris Klieman's first year.
The Sooners have won four straight in the series and have not lost in Manhattan since 1996.
Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) is the conference's leading candidate to reach the CFP, tied with unbeaten and 14th-ranked Baylor atop the league standings. But there is plenty of season left before the playoff field is announced, and Sooners coach Lincoln Riley is not looking past Kansas State (4-2, 1-2).
"Their football team is playing really well," Riley said. "It's kind of weird looking at that sideline and not seeing ... Coach (Bill) Snyder down there. But Coach Klieman has done a great job. There's no shock at all that they're doing well. You still see the toughness and physicality we're come to expect from K-State."
The Sooners are led by Heisman Trophy contender Jalen Hurts, who leads the country in passing efficiency (226.1 rating) and is second in total offense (397.0 yards per game), powering Oklahoma to 50.4 points and 612.9 yards per game, both tops in the nation.
Hurts has thrown 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Hurts is also the team's leading rusher with 705 yards and 10 scores, averaging 8.4 per carry.
The speedy CeeDee Lamb (31 catches, 681 yards, 10 TDs) leads a dangerous receiving corps.
The Sooners' suddenly stout defense is 28th nationally (and second in the Big 12) by allowing 326.3 yards per game. But they have lost starting linebacker Jon-Michael Terry for the rest of the season with an unspecified lower-leg injury. Redshirt freshman Nik Bonitto started last week in his absence and will likely remain in that role.
The Sooners are dominating everyone they play, with six of their seven victories coming by least 18 points. They beat Texas 34-27 in a game in which they outgained the Longhorns by 201 yards.
Kansas State started quickly this season with two resounding victories against overmatched opponents. The Wildcats won their third game, scoring 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat Mississippi State 31-24. It was the first road win over a Power 5 nonconference opponent since 2011, and it put the Wildcats in the rankings at No. 24. Klieman became the first K-State coach to have his team ranked in his first season.
Two straight Big 12 losses (Oklahoma State, Baylor) brought the Cats back to earth before last week's dramatic 24-17 win over TCU.
Quarterback Skylar Thompson engineered a 95-yard touchdown drive with just over eight minutes remaining. With the score tied at 17 and the Wildcats deep in their own end, Thompson took off on a 61-yard run. He also converted on a fourth-and-1 and scored the winning touchdown from 3 yards out with 2:45 left.
"I live for those situations," the redshirt junior said. "I have my whole life. I love to be under the gun, under pressure and in those situations. That's what I worked for my whole life was to be in situations like that and to deliver for my teammates."
The Wildcats averaged 197.2 yards per game on the ground and 171.8 yards per game passing.
--Field Level Media