When one talks about Oklahoma State football it’s about the Cowboys’ offense that averages 49.9 points per game and 555 yards per game.
But equally impressive is the fact Kansas State’s football team will also be playing the No. 1 team in the nation on Saturday when it comes to turnover-margin with a plus-19 count.
“They have the most interceptions in the nation as well,” said KSU coach Bill Snyder. “They could be playing equally as well and not have those turnovers, but one fits the other extremely well if you can force turnovers and then score points.”
"Our team has been opportunistic about takeaways and forcing turnovers and our offense has done a nice job of taking advantage of it. Winning the turnover margin in each game is obviously important,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy.
“I think that's one area that's consistent across the country. Fortunately for us, we've been able to take advantage of that the last few games."
While OSU leads the nation in turnover margin at plus-19 -- 29 take-aways and 10 turnovers lost – KSU ranks second in the Big 12 at plus-9 – 17 take-aways and eight given up. KSU’s 12 interceptions ranks second in the league only to OSU’s 17.
But now back to OSU’s version of the greatest offensive show on turf.
In Joseph Randle, OSU has the league’s No. 2 running back (105 yards per game) and the leader in scoring (12.8 points per game). Quarterback Brandon Weeden has passed for 339 yards and 22 touchdowns, while receiver Justin Blackmon has 74 catches for 104 yards and a total of 10 touchdowns.
“They throw it to him, he catches it and runs it to the end zone. That is just what he does,” said Snyder. “Some of the best have lined up against him and tried to stop him and have had no success doing it. It is just a matter of, can you do it?
“They have a very cool, calm and collected quarterback. He throws a great ball, and he has great confidence, and they work together extremely well, but it’s Blackmon who is the guy that just finds open areas.”
The Cowboys have scored at least 30 points in every game, and have had games of 59, 59, 61 and 70 points. Fix of their eight wins have been by at least 21 points.
K-State will counter with its ground attack featuring Collin Klein, plus running back John Hubert in their methodical huddle-up offense.
“The game moves a little bit slower,” said Gundy of KSU’s style. “It gives the defense more of an opportunity to make their calls. You deal with it - you play at day or you play at night; teams huddle, don't huddle. You just deal with whatever's presented to you and you get ready to go."
While K-State ranks second in the league in time of possession at 34:23, Snyder says, “Time of possession is great to accomplish what you are trying to accomplish, but you have to get the ball in the end zone. If you can hold on to it for a year and a half and not put points on the board, it is of no real value to you. You are playing against teams that score so quickly.
They get a point a minute, so to speak. You are going to have possession time, whether you like it or not, you are probably going to have possession time against teams that move and score so quickly and are efficient with what they do.”
In rebounding from last week’s 58-17 loss to Oklahoma, Snyder said, “I try to map out what a positive and natural progression might be. That does not mean that everyone is going to pay attention. I have always said sometimes you might be better served to lose by 40 instead of one. But, I do not think anybody likes the kind of point spread we had. A loss is a loss, and to me the worse it is the more repair work you have to do.”
On the OSU challenge, freshman center B.J. Finney offered, “Our confidence has stayed the same. We are writing our own future and the guys are remembering that. We are just going to continue to do what we do and hopefully it pans out for us.”
Snyder added on the team moving forward: “I think what our team has to prove is what we expect of our team – to get better week in and week out and that did not happen last week. We have to prove to ourselves that we are able to do that. That is what we are working on right now.”