August 31, 2006

The game up close: Illinois State at K-State

Kansas State is finally ready to open up the 2006 season against Illinois State, a program that isn't quite the cupcake opponent most casual fans would expect. The Redbirds gave Iowa State all it could handle in Ames in last year's season opener in what was a tie game late in the third quarter before falling 32-21. Can the Redbirds put another serious scare into a Big 12 opponent, or will the Wildcats roll in Ron Prince's regular season debut?

The Game Up Close: Illinois State (0-0, 0-0) vs. Kansas State (0-0, 0-0)

Saturday, Sept. 2, 6:10 p.m. kickoff
Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.

NOTE: All statistics in this analysis are from the 2005 season, starting next week I will use stats and stat rankings from the current season. Also, Illinois State's statistics come from a schedule featuring mostly Division I-AA opponents.

Illinois State rush offense vs. Kansas State rush defense
The numbers:
KSU rush defense: Allowing 128.8 yards per game
ISU rush offense: Averaging 208.8 yards per game

The breakdown: Illinois State has a major college talent at running back in the form of senior Pierre Rembert, a 6-foot, 220-pound Michigan transfer who was once rated as a four-star running back and Top 100 recruit by Rembert saw action early in his career as a Wolverine but was never going to beat out UM star tailback Michael Hart and decided to transfer down a level. Rembert started five games last season and was at his best down the stretch, turning in a dominant 272-yard, six-touchdown performance against Missouri State in the 10th game of the year. The Wildcats defensive line has been completely reshuffled and will feature three players who've never started at this level at their respective positions before. Fans will keep a close eye on tackles Blake Seiler and Steven Cline to see how they hold up against a relatively small ISU offensive front. The Redbirds couldn't get the ground game going in the Iowa State loss last year and will struggle to do so again on Saturday.

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