Curtis Kitchen has followed the Big 12, Kansas State and national college basketball beat including K-State's run to the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in 2010. You can currently follow his work at his blog: KitchenKC.com In the past, he also covered the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) for Major League Soccer's mlsnet.com site as well as the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals for the other sports station in town. His freelance portfolio ranges media outlets and publications, including gopowercat.com (part of the Rivals network), collegehoopsnet.com and the Miami Herald.
Curtis Kitchen: Missouri-K-State Preview
by Curtis Kitchen,posted Oct 7 2011 11:58AM
Four games and five weeks into the college football season, we all have a pretty decent handle on what most teams bring to the table this year. We know: Oklahoma is biding its time while in wait for Oklahoma State (after it beats Texas this weekend), Baylor still doesn’t know how to win close games and Kansas Jayhawks fans have already turned their sites toward Late Night.
But, what we still don’t have a clear picture of are the two teams set to square off in Manhattan on Saturday.
Missouri is my pick as the most dangerous 2-2 team in the conference. The two losses came in James Franklin’s first road start at Arizona State and in Norman against the Sooners. The Tigers are a missed field goal from being 3-1, and probably still ranked in the polls at that point. They have a young quarterback in James Franklin who continues to impress each week he takes the field. Missouri also has the conference’s leading rusher in Henry Josey – a kid who was so far buried on the depth chart that MU fans and onlookers were bemoaning the rash of running back injuries when he first played. All he has done since then is average over 12 yards per carry.
Match that kind of production with a defense that, while the secondary has been exposed some of late, has proven adept at stopping the run well enough to make most opponents’ offenses one-dimensional.
And, yes, the Tigers keep improving week-to-week, so it’s hard to know exactly how high the upside is with Missouri. That makes it hard to predict what we’ll see from the Tigers against another almost impossible team to read in undefeated Kansas State.
Some of you disagree (trust me, I know, I read the emails), but I like to think I pay attention and am clued in to what K-State has with its team. However, I’ve been wrong a couple of times already this year in judging the Wildcats. I thought they had the weapons to be a good passing team; running is the obvious strength (through the quarterback position no less). I thought the defense would struggle; and while it hasn’t been dominant, it has been the “D” that KSU has relied on in crunch time to preserve its unblemished record.
That said, like Missouri, it’s hard to gauge what K-State’s upside is at this point. The team is 4-0, but could easily be 1-3. Collin Klein has been a workhorse, but can he keep the same pace without breaking down? Can the defense be expected to continue to find ways to save games? Is this entire team playing above its head right now, or is there still room for substantial growth? (In comments I’ve received, the general feeling from fans and media trends toward the former.) It isn’t that I’m a non-believer in the Wildcats – the past two games have erased that for me. But, I wonder is all…what is KSU’s “best” in 2011?
Regardless, it’s another Saturday, another chance for Snyder and company to snuff out KSU detractors. It isn’t often the home team, one that is ranked, is the underdog to a team that isn’t, which sets the stage for one crazy scene in Manhattan. And, with the current political landscape hanging like a drape in the background, dare I say the Little Apple could be a little “angry”? Absolutely.
Couple that with the excitement that surrounds all of the unknowns with this game, and it should make for one heck of a contest.