It’s fluttered in the last two games of the season, but Kansas State’s defense was one of the strongest in a conference that’s dominated the passing attack for years. Yes, it’s pass rush isn’t the best and can be exposed at times (like Oklahoma State’s 400-plus yards in the air against them), but that’s not what makes this defense great. Like many of head coach Bill Snyder’s teams, the discipline of not making big mistakes made this team a national contender for most of the season.
- Rushing: 2nd in Big 12, 17th in nation (119.6 yds/gm)
- Passing: 5th in Big 12, 96th in nation (255.8 yds/gm)
- Scoring: 1st in Big 12, 24th in nation (21.1 pts/gm)
If you’ve turned on a Kansas State game this season, nearly every telecast should have brought up their turnover margin. The Wildcats finished well in the black at +22, which is a 10-turnover increase from a season ago. As expected, it’s easy to tell which games had the turnovers.
Their worst margin reached was -1 in two games; a narrow 35-21 victory over 4-win North Texas and their huge gaffe against Baylor. They went even in their narrow victories on the road at Iowa State and TCU. Every other game they finished with 2 or higher, including a five-turnover advantage Kansas and Oklahoma State.
Kansas State also capitalizes on scoring after turnovers, and even if opponents force turnovers the Wildcats don’t let them score. Previous to the Baylor game, they held all their opponents to just seven points combined off of turnovers.
What makes things tough for Oregon in this matchup is Kansas State’s run defense, which it where the unit shines outside of just forcing turnovers. The defense is led by senior linebacker, Arthur Brown, who finished with 91 tackles on the year (most on the team). Both senior linemen Meshak Williams and Adam Davis, who combine for 15.5 of the team’s 30 sacks, will also be a threat to get into Oregon’s backfield and create havok for Marcus Mariota and the running attack.