Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State Makes the Plays It Needs To, Vaults into Playoff Picture

Sometimes a team doesn’t need to dominate both sides of the football to win a contest. It simply needs to do what it does best and avoid making costly mistakes.

That’s what Kansas State did against Oklahoma.

Make no mistake about it: the Wildcats were not perfect, especially on defense. The run defense, the fourth best in the nation, had trouble stopping the OU ground game, allowing 198 yards – more than double than what it usually surrenders. Similarly, the KSU pass defense had absolutely no answers for the Sooners’ play action passing, which completed 28 of 36 passes for 335 yards. Not surprisingly, Oklahoma converted on 7 of its 11 third-down attempts.

While allowing that many yards and that many long drives would decimate most teams, it didn’t seem to bother Kansas State at all. The Wildcats simply made plays when they needed to.

Just look at how KSU took its first lead of the game. Although the the Wildcats couldn’t capitalize on excellent field position, they did the next best thing on that drive, downing a punt on the Oklahoma 2-yard line. The poor field position forced the Sooners – who operate mostly out of the shotgun – to throw quick passes in order to avoid a safety. This set up a Danzel McDaniel pick-six, resulting in a 14-7 lead.

The Wildcat defense would come up again big again in the third quarter. With the Sooners driving for the tying score, the Kansas State defense rose to the occasion, intercepting an Oklahoma reverse pass in the end zone to preserve the lead.

As well as the defense played, Kansas State’s special-teams unit made the biggest play of the game. After Oklahoma marched 93 yards to get within a point of tying the score, the Wildcats blocked the ensuing PAT to keep the game at 31-30…

…which was the final score in the contest.

Today’s win has to vault Kansas State into the College Football Playoff conversation. Unlike the game against Auburn, when the Wildcats beat themselves with turnovers and mistakes, Kansas State found a way to come up with the plays it needed to defeat preseason Big 12 favorite Oklahoma in Norman. Since the Selection Committee uses the “eyeball test” when determining strength of schedule, its tough to see it leaving the Wildcats out of the field if they win the conference championship. If the committee did so, it’d be penalizing a team for losing a tough non-conference game, which would result in more glorified scrimmages in future Septembers.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.