From the Pressbox: K-State at Oklahoma State Preview


The Big 12 is one of the nation's most competitive conferences, boasting six teams in the Top 25. Big wins by Kansas State and Oklahoma State last week have made the league's divisional races even tighter.

The 25th-ranked Wildcats, back in the AP poll after closing the gap in the Big 12 North, visit the Cowboys on Saturday night.

Kansas State (4-2, 2-1) squeezed into the Top 25 this week after a 47-20 win over Colorado last Saturday night, drawing within one-half game of first place in the North -- which has three teams in the poll.

The conference's South Division also has three teams in the Top 25, and Oklahoma State (4-3, 2-1) is in a four-way tie for first place after snapping a 20-game losing streak against Nebraska with a 45-14 road win last Saturday.


Oklahoma State had lost 11 of its previous 12 road games before beating the Cornhuskers for the first time since 1960.

"Nebraska's over with, and now we're looking forward to a very good football team," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. "Kansas State will present challenges for us in all areas.

"You just can't live very long on the last one. You've got to get ready for the next one."

Kansas State has won four of its last five against Oklahoma State and is coming off its second-highest scoring game of the season. The Wildcats' versatile offense was clicking against Colorado, with Deon Murphy scoring on a 20-yard reverse and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Josh Freeman.

Murphy, the Wildcats' No. 2 receiver behind Jordy Nelson, has recorded a touchdown rushing and receiving in the same game one other time this season, leading Kansas State to a 34-14 win over San Jose State on Sept. 8.

"Deon's a great player," Freeman said. "He's always had it in him. We just have to find ways to get the ball to him."

Murphy is a perfect complement to Nelson, who is third in the Big 12 with 56 catches for 727 yards. Nelson has not been held under 82 yards receiving all season.

On defense, Kansas State forced four turnovers against Colorado and has 10 interceptions and one fumble recovery in its last three games. Wildcats safety Chris Carney has three INTs in his last two games.

Kansas State, though, will be facing one of the nation's top offenses, with Oklahoma State ranking sixth with 246.3 yards rushing per game. The Cowboys are led by wide receiver Adarius Bowman and running back Dantrell Savage.

Bowman has 44 receptions for 721 yards and six touchdowns. His production has helped loosen up defenses for Savage, who had a career-high 212 yards on 25 carries against Nebraska.

Gundy credits Savage with giving Oklahoma State's offense a lift since returning from a groin injury four weeks ago. Savage leads the Cowboys with 622 yards rushing despite missing two games, and Oklahoma State is 3-1 since he returned.

"He's a leader for our team because of the way he approaches the game," Gundy said. "He's a competitor, and I think your team rallies around players like that."

Zac Robinson has been steady for the Cowboys, completing 58.4 percent of his passes for 1,328 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has also rushed for 325 yards and three TDs.

"This is a player who has a lot of ability, can run, can throw, and makes good decisions," Kansas State coach Ron Prince said of Robinson. "He's gutsy with the ball. He'll try to get the extra yards. He'll do all those things. He's a very good competitor."

This is the first of three straight games against ranked opponents for Oklahoma State. After a bye next week, the Cowboys host No. 19 Texas before a matchup with 15th-ranked Kansas the following week.

Oklahoma State has a 33-22 edge in its all-time series with Kansas State.


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