October 24, 2008

Wildcats ready for their crack at OU

Kansas State, unable to climb past Colorado and the lowest-scoring offense in the Big 12 a week ago, suddenly finds its quest to reach the postseason taking a steep uphill turn in facing ranked teams in the next three weeks. However, the Wildcats won't gain much sympathy from fourth-ranked Oklahoma when the league title-chasing Sooners bring Heisman Trophy candidate Sam Bradford and their powerful offense to a Saturday morning meeting at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Coming off its lowest point total of the season in a 14-13 loss at Colorado, the Wildcats, 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the Big 12, start a daunting three-game stretch in which they will face Oklahoma for their Homecoming game before back-to-back contests on the road at No. 19 Kansas and No. 16 Missouri.

Already, the Wildcats have felt the wrath of the powerful South division, which features undefeated teams in top-ranked Texas, No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 8 Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders blasted K-State, 58-28, in its last home game on Oct. 4, marking the Wildcats' worst loss in Manhattan in 12 years.

Still, third-year coach Ron Prince, 16-16, remains optimistic as he faces Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops for the first time and seeks his first-career win against a ranked team other than Texas in a 11:30 a.m. kickoff that will be televised by Fox Sports Net.

"This will be a great opportunity for us to have this team at home," said Prince, whose team will look for its first Big 12 win at home since a 51-14 victory against Baylor on Oct. 27, 2007. "It will be our first time coaching against these guys and obviously, Kansas State and Oklahoma have a long background with the staffs and the teams meeting in important games and we would like to make this a very good game for us.

"If we play well and prepare well we will have a real good chance like we do every week, but I see signs of growth in our team and we will continue to push forward."

Since K-State shocked top-ranked Oklahoma, 35-7, in the 2003 Big 12 Championship game, the teams have met only once -- a 31-21 win by the second-ranked Sooners in Manhattan in 2004. This will mark the fifth straight time the teams have met when Oklahoma is ranked in the Top 10.

"They're in the top of the rankings every year. It's a challenge," K-State wide receiver Brandon Banks said. "I'm excited. They're Top 10 in the nation and we're going to have to play a little bit better than we did last week. They compete really well, so we're going to have to just compete with them."

It could require plenty of points for the underdog Wildcats to do so.

"I would assume it's a good thing for us that if we're having a god game and if we have the opportunity to win, it'll be a fairly high-scoring game," Prince said.

Quarterback Josh Freeman has 12 passing touchdowns and just two interceptions this season, but hasn't thrown a touchdown in 92 passing attempts dating back to a scoring toss in the first quarter against Texas Tech. But Freeman has supplemented his throwing game with a decent ground game and has churned out a team-leading 13 rushing touchdowns, including the Wildcats' only touchdown at Colorado.

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