I love most any Oklahoma-Kansas State meetings in part because it’s an opportunity to talk about Star Wars. For those without nerd inclinations, apologies up front.
When Oklahoma head Bob Stoops and K-State’s venerable sideline general Bill Snyder meet, there’s the obvious Student vs. Teacher angle that highlighted the original Star Wars. Darth Vader, Sith Lord of the Empire and overseer of the mighty Death Star, battles his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Stoops vis a vis Vader commands the Oklahoma juggernaut, which has run roughshod over its own little corner of the college football galaxy with eight Big 12 Conference titles since 2000. This year’s Sooners have at times been the fully armed and operational force capable of wiping out all competition en route to a national championship.
Of course, we all know what happened to the Death Star: It had a fatal flaw. TCU’s Gary Patterson flew his X-Wing and dropped a bomb on Oklahoma in Week 6, damaging the Sooners’ Playoff hopes.
Still, chaos throughout the college football universe means Oklahoma still has championship life. The Sooners just cannot sustain a second loss.
K-State may not necessarily seem like much of a threat. The Wildcats are visiting Norman and Memorial Stadium, one of the tougher places to play in the Big 12. Vegas has them tabbed as 12-point underdogs, and the student’s record vs. the teacher is quite impressive: Stoops has beaten Snyder seven times.
But bear in mind that the mighty Empire was felled by a bunch of Ewoks.
Also worth remembering: we’ve seen Snyder’s K-State teams get the best of Stoops’ Oklahoma teams at particular significant times. One was actually on the Wildcats’ last visit to Norman in a 24-19 slugfest that saw the teacher best the student at his own defensive game. The loss effectively denied Oklahoma an outright Big 12 championship and kept the Sooners from national title contention.
Snyder’s other win over Stoops was about as brutal as Obi-Wan Kenobi’s beatdown of Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith.
Oklahoma still played for the championship that season, but this year the Sooners would be afforded no such luxury with two losses. The Big 12 champion is already at a disadvantage by not getting a 13th game, which every other Power 5 conference winner gets via a title game.
If Princess Leia were sending the Big 12 Conference a distress hologram via R2-D2, it would say: “Run the table the rest of the way. It’s our only hope.”
While much of the championship and Playoff focus is on Oklahoma, K-State is itself still in the mix. The Wildcats have just one loss: a closely contested Thursday night defeat to defending SEC champion Auburn.
And though K-State dropped that decision, its performance against Auburn suggests the Wildcats can hang with Oklahoma. Their defense stifled offensive innovator Gus Malzahn for the better part of the night, only allowing the Tigers to breakthrough after the Wildcats offense failed to capitalized on numerous opportunities.
The K-State pass rush frustrated Nick Marshall and ground Auburn’s run game almost to a standstill. A similar effort against Oklahoma could render the Sooners offense even more ineffective than it did the Tigers’, because Oklahoma has yet to mount much of a passing attack with Trevor Knight.
Knight wasn’t exactly lighting up the air with his passing touch prior to Katy Perry expressing her affection for him-he threw one interception and zero scores against West Virginia, after all. But since the pop diva shouted out Knight on College Gameday, he’s 26-of-55 for 438 yards with two scores and two interceptions.
Just imagine how much worse it might be if she’d donned the gold bikini from Return of the Jedi.
Katy’s Curse will have a real impact if Oklahoma cannot get bulldozing running back Samaje Perine going.
Think of Perine at his best like Vader’s Force Choke: constricting, overpowering and ultimately, you’re helpless to stop it.
Saturday’s encounter has the potential to be truly epic. He may not be the most anticipated of the Week 8 slate, but my inner geek has a feeling that this year’s installment in the Oklahoma-Kansas State series will be memorable.