By NICK SNOW
STILLWATER — The last time Oklahoma State and Kansas State met on the football field it took a goalline stop for the Pokes to come away with a 52-45 win in Stillwater. The win sparked the Cowboys to their first Big 12 championship and a Fiesta Bowl berth, while Kansas State struggled down the stretch before losing to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.
Now, Oklahoma State is hoping history can repeat when the Cowboys travel to Manhattan, Kan., for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“Right now I feel like we kind of have a snowball effect,” Oklahoma State senior linebacker Alex Elkins said. “The bigger our snowball gets, the harder we’re going to be to stop. They’re just another mark on our schedule, and if we can beat them then it’s just going to make our snowball that much bigger.”
The shoe is on the other foot this time, however. The second-ranked Wildcats come in as the highly ranked team primed for an upset at home, while the Cowboys are looking for that last jolt to push them toward another Big 12 championship.
“It kind of does seem like we might be in their shoes where they were last year,” Elkins said. “That’s not how we’re looking at it. We have to look at it as they are the next opponents on their schedule and we have to get this W in order to create success for our program. To have an opportunity to take away a No. 2 spot like it was taken away from us (against Iowa State), it kind of does make you a little more hungry. We’ve been hungry all season, but to have an opportunity to take back what was taken from us is an awesome feeling.”
The Cowboys will be looking to knock off Kansas State for the fifth time in six tries, but they will have to do so without NFL first-round draft picks Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.
“We know that those guys aren’t going to come walking through that locker room door anytime soon,” Oklahoma State senior offensive lineman Lane Taylor said. “But we’ve got plenty of talented guys that can have an impact. We needed Brandon’s leadership last year, but I feel comfortable knowing that we have a little more experience on the offensive line this year. They’re pretty much the same team we saw last year so it should be another good game.”
A good game is a safe bet when it comes to the Oklahoma State-Kansas State matchup. Four of the last five games have been decided by a touchdown or less — including last year’s back-and-forth game in Stillwater. But with a shot at a Big 12 title on the line and the Wildcats hungry for revenge in their home stadium, Taylor said he expects the team to come out even more focused.
“People say that revenge is a factor, but it’s always going to be a factor when you lose a close game like that,” Taylor said. “Last year’s game was a thriller that came down to the last play. We expect this one to be almost exactly the same way. We just have to make sure we go out there, do our jobs, stay focused and not get caught up in worrying about their revenge.”
And if it comes down to stopping Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein once again, will the Cowboy’s defense rise to the occasion to pull off the upset?
“The have the ability to create some space in the face of adversity,” Elkins said. “They did a great job of setting themselves up for opportunities and you have to respect that. (Klein) is a great quarterback, who can beat you with both his arm and his legs. It’s impossible to shut him down completely, so we’re just going to try to slow him down as best as we can and hopefully things will bounce our way.”
— Nick Snow is a sports reporter for the Stillwater NewsPress.