MANHATTAN, Kan. - Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s defense was unexpectedly gashed by a mediocre Iowa State offense last week resulting in a 48-42 setback. The Cowboys will try to tighten things up on that side of the ball and get back to .500 in Big 12 play Saturday when they visit a Kansas State team that Gundy warns is “better than people think” despite losing three straight.
TV: Noon ET, ESPNU. LINE: Oklahoma State -7.
Iowa State third-string quarterback Brock Purdy, a true freshman, threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another score last Saturday against Oklahoma State. The Cyclones, who played without star running back David Montgomery, entered the game ranked last in the Big 12 in both scoring (17.5 points per game, 122nd in the nation out of 130) and yards (299.5 per game, 123rd overall) but reached season highs in both categories, amassing 465 yards overall. “Defensively, we've got to do a better job of not giving up big plays. Our safeties have to do a better job of not letting their eyes get into the backfield,” Gundy said at his weekly press conference. “We continue to work on that and talk to them. I know they're young and guys that haven't played a lot." Kansas State registered a season-high 468 yards, including 319 rushing yards - the most since the Wildcats tallied 344 against UCLA in the 2017 Cactus Bowl -- but dropped a 37-34 decision to Baylor last week when Connor Martin kicked a 29-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (4-2, 1-2 Big 12)
Taylor Cornelius was 19-of-33 passing for 289 yards and four touchdowns against Iowa State but was sacked seven times while Big 12 leading rusher Justice Hill was limited to 66 yards on 24 carries although he set a Big 12 running back record by scoring a TD in his 12th straight game. “At times we were pretty good in the running game but didn't protect very well, which was obvious,” Gundy said. ”When we do that, it's hard for us to move the football and be effective. We have to improve in that area. Taylor actually played pretty well. He missed a couple of throws but was essentially running for his life from play one and didn't have a chance." The Cowboys need to limit the big play, but the defense still leads the nation in sacks with 28 - defensive end Jordan Brailford leads FBS with eight sacks - and is third nationally with 55 tackles for loss.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (2-4, 0-3)
Alex Barnes (607 yards, five TDs) ran 22 times for a career-best 250 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to Baylor, becoming just the fifth Wildcat to rush for 250 yards in a game and the first since Daniel Thomas had 269 against North Texas on November 27, 2010; it was also the most by a Wildcat in a conference game since Darren Sproles totaled 273 against Missouri on November 22, 2003. A week after sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson came in after halftime for Alex Delton and sparked the Wildcats in a home loss to Texas, he returned to the starting role and completed 15-of-26 for 149 yards against Baylor with two interceptions, although he added a 52-yard TD run. "I don't know how he graded out, but he'd like to have some snaps back," coach Bill Snyder told reporters. "He also did some good things. He led some drives and did a nice job, especially early in the ballgame."
1. The Cowboys hold a 39-25 all-time advantage in the series, including an 18-15 edge on games played in Manhattan. The Cowboys have won two of the last three and six of the past nine matchups overall, but the Wildcats won last year's game 45-40 in Stillwater.
2. The Cowboys, who are not ranked in either poll for the first time in 29 weeks, have a seven-game road win streak that dates back to last season and ranks as the third-longest run in school history.
3. Dating back to the 2016 season, Kansas State has hit the 200-yard mark on the ground in 17 of its last 28 games, including 256 rushing yards against South Dakota and 319 at Baylor this season.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 41, Kansas State 34
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