Gameday Preview: Missouri State at K-State

MissouriState Up this week for Kansas State is a game that just about everyone figures the Wildcats will win.

There are no point spreads when a team from the Football Championship Subdivision (aka Division I-AA) is involved, but here’s guessing the odds makers would make K-State a 30-point favorite if they could.

After out muscling UCLA last week for a hard-fought win, all Bill Snyder’s team truly has to do to beat Missouri State by a wide margin is play that way again.

Missouri State is not a bad FCS team. Some have given them an outside shot at making the playoffs. But as long as the Wildcats treat the Bears with respect, and do not overlook the guests they paid to visit Snyder Family Stadium, they will soon have their second victory.

ABOUT MISSOURI STATE
All talk about Missouri State has to start with its coach, Terry Allen. The Bears’ head man once beat K-State when he was with Northern Iowa, and was the college coach of Kurt Warner.

After great success with the Panthers, he went on to coach at Kansas for several forgettable years. Now he’s back at the FCS level, and hoping to guide the Bears to a strong season.

They started the year off last week in an odd way by defeating Eastern Kentucky 31-9 on Friday afternoon (the game was scheduled for Thursday, but was postponed due to lightning) and here is what Allen had to say about it:

“To beat them 31-9 and to do it the way we did, in spurts, it’s a really good win in a messed up weekend. Our defense did a great job. They kept them out of the game. When you do that, you are going to win some football games. All-in-all, we got a lot of mistakes out of some first year players, and you’re going to have that. There is a whole bunch of little things to work on and we won 31-9 … This could really help us down the road. ”

Will it help today against the Wildcats? Unlikely. Missouri State has played up against Big 12 and SEC competition in each of the past three seasons and lost convincingly all three teams. Once to K-State, once to Oklahoma State and once to Arkansas.

But the Bears do pose challenges for any team. Senior left tackle David Arkin (of Wichita) is one of the best offensive linemen in the FCS, and Cody Kirby is a veteran quarterback.

Their 3-4 defense is also something K-State won’t see much of this season. Even though it gave up 315 passing yards last week, the Wildcats’ offense cannot ease up against it.

“They are a good defense. I feel like if we go in with that mindset we’re going to look foolish and get embarrassed out there,” said offensive lineman Zach Kendall. “Their defense is the 3-4 defense. They throw a lot of blitzes at you. They blitz on almost every play. It’s not a defense you just go out and play around with.”

ABOUT KANSAS STATE
The K-State football team didn’t have to look far for motivation this week. As soon as players saw their rivals at Kansas lose 6-3 to North Dakota State, a squad picked to finish behind Missouri State in the Missouri Valley Conference, they vowed to avoid the same type of humbling defeat.

“It was a shocker,” Kendall said. “… It can’t happen to us. It won’t. We can’t let it happen to us.”

Players also pointed to a narrow victory over Massachusetts last season and a tough loss at Louisiana-Lafayette as examples of what can happen if they enter the game without proper preparation.

One of the first things quarterback Carson Coffman said after last week’s win was, “We can’t let down.”

Snyder said he had already warned his players about a possible hangover from beating UCLA during his Tuesday news conference.

It’s good that the Wildcats understand the importance of each game, but they should be fine here. When they struggled out of the gate against UMASS and ULL last year, they had no offensive identity, and they were still adjusting to Snyder’s coaching style.

This year they have Daniel Thomas and an experienced offensive line that knows how to block for him. No matter how many defenders Missouri State lines up to stop him, K-State should have little problem rushing for big yardage.

The hope is Thomas can get over the 100-yard mark in the first half, and Snyder can let William Powell do most of the ball-carrying in the final two quarters.

Well, if they need Powell to run that is. With Iowa State coming up next at Arrowhead Stadium, the Wildcats would like to have some success throwing the ball against a relatively weak opponent.

Last week, K-State threw for just 64 yards and a touchdown. Coffman missed on his big-play opportunities and showed little pocket awareness. His offensive line’s pass blocking wasn’t great, either.

The Wildcats won’t force anything against the Bears, but this should be the weakest secondary they see all season. If they can throw for 200 or more yards it would be a tremendous confidence boost for Coffman and his wide receivers.

A balanced attack would also give Iowa State coaches something to think about before designing a defense solely around stopping the run.

ADVANTAGES

When K-State runs the ball: K-State

When Missouri State runs the ball: K-State

When K-State passes the ball: K-State

When Missouri State passes the ball: K-State

Special teams: K-State

Coaching: K-State

Prediction: K-State 44, Missouri State 13