By Mark Janssen
On how difficult of a task Kansas State faces in playing the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Wildcat coach Bill Snyder said, "On a scale of 1 to 10, it's a 12."
For starters, the 6-1 and 20th-ranked Cowboys have the league's best rusher in Kendall Hunter (147 yards per game), the league's best passer in Brandon Weeden (321 yards per game with 21 touchdowns), the league's best punter in Quinn Sharp (48.2 average), league's best field goal kicker in Dan Bailey (16 of 16) and the league leader in solo tackles in Orie Lemon (8.1 per game).
"You name it and they've got it," said Snyder of K-State's Homecoming opponent. "It is so easy for a coach to say that the first thing that you have to do is stop the run, but I can remember stopping the run and getting beat by the pass. I think that it is a dual thing. You have to be able to defend against both. If you stop the pass and make them one-sided, they have the capacity to run the ball. For a team that can do both, you have to be able to stop both."
O-State can definitely do both as its 48.3 point per game average ranks second in the nation, and its 530 offensive yards - 350 passing and 180 rushing - rank third in the country. Both figures lead the Big 12, as does the Cowboys' Red Zone scoring rate of 97 percent.
In games this season, the Cowboys have scored 65, 41, 65, 38, 54, 34 and 41 points, and recorded 544, 522, 722, 351, 492, 581 and 495 yards.
In stopping OSU, Snyder said, "You have to do what you do. You hate to say you have to go out and out-score them because that's saying you have no confidence in your defense. Our approach is to prepare and perform as well as we can on defense, and the same with special teams. Nobody knows how it's going to go."
With every game, Snyder said, "Our No. 1 goal on offense is to outscore the opponent, and our No. 1 goal is to hold opponents to fewer points than the offense scores."
SERIES NOTES: OSU 34, KSU 22 ... K-State has won 10 of the last 12 games in the series, but O-State has won the last two ... O-State is 16-14 in games played in Manhattan, but the Cowboys have not won in Manhattan since 1988 when current OSU coach Mike Gundy was the quarterback. Barry Sanders rushed for 300-plus yards in that game ... Bill Snyder is 9-2 versus O-State.
RECORD-SETTING PACE: With his average of 34.1 yards per kickoff return, KSU's William Powell is well ahead of the school single-season record of 29.2 yards set by Mack Herron in 1968. Last year, Brandon Banks averaged 28.9 yards per kickoff return. Powell had a 100-yard take-back against Baylor last week.
KICK CONTEST: Kansas State's Josh Cherry has connected on all six of his field goal tries this season with a 48-yarder as his longest. Cherry is a perfect 24-of-24 on extra points.
O-State counters with Dan Bailey, who has hit all 15 of his field goals and 100 percent on extra points in 41 attempts. Bailey's longest field goal is a 52-yarder.
DID YOU KNOW? K-State has scored 101 points - 59 vs. Kansas and 42 vs. Baylor - in consecutive "road" Big 12 games. That's the second-most in K-State history bettered only in 2002 with 102 points - 64 vs. Kansas and 38 vs. Missouri - in consecutive Big 12 "road" contests..
UPDATING MR. THOMAS: Daniel Thomas has rushed for 2,160 yards to rank No. 7 in K-State history. Next in line are No. 6 Isaac Jackson with 2,182 yards, No. 5 J.J. Smith with 2,210 yards and No. 4 Mike Lawrence with 2,265 yards.
Thomas is only 105 yards away from his second 1,000-yard rushing season. In K-State history, only Darren Sproles has more than one 1,000-yard season. Sproles had three - 1,465, 1,986 and 1,318.
Thomas rushed for 113 yards last week against Baylor, breaking a three-game span when his rushing totals were below the century mark at 76, 63 and 91 yards. Thomas ranks second in the Big 12 with 130 yards per game, which ranks eighth in the country.
QUOTEABLE QUOTE: Here's O-State defensive coordinator Bill Young on K-State coach Bill Snyder, "He has done an unbelievable job with that program. He inherited the program when Kansas State couldn't beat the sisters of the poor and now they are winning championships and competing. He has done such a great job."
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
• QB CARSON COFFMAN (No. 14) has passed for 415 yards in his last two games with two touchdowns and one interception.
• WR AUBREY QUARLES (No. 89) leads K-State in receptions with 24 for 375 yards and three touchdowns. He latched on to six passes for 131 yards last week at Baylor.
• LB ALEX HREBEC (No. 56) ranks seventh in the Big 12 with his 64 tackles. The Wildcat junior has 164 tackles for his career.
• RB KENDALL HUNTER (No. 24) ranks first in the Big 12 and third nationally with his 147-yard rushing average. Hunter is a 5-foot-11, 200-pounder out of Tyler, Texas, who has rushed for at last 101 yards in six of OSU's seven games. His season-high was a 257-yard outing against Washington State.
• QB BRANDON WEEDEN (No. 3) is tops in the Big 12 and second nationally with his 321 passing yards per game. The 27-year-old Weeden has thrown a league-high 21 touchdowns to go with nine interceptions.
• LB ORIE LEMON (No. 41) has scored 57 solo tackles to lead the Big 12 and his 9.9 overall tackles per game ranks third high.
• CB ANDREW MCGEE (No. 6) is second in the league in interceptions with three.
NEXT WEEK: Kansas State plays its home finale at Bill Snyder Family Stadium against none other than the Texas Longhorns in a 7 p.m. kickoff. The game will be telecast by ESPN2.
The Wildcats will complete their 2010 regular season with road dates to Missouri, Colorado and North Texas.