Thursday, May 8, 2014
Auburn Travels to Kansas State
Far from home, and far from easy. That is how I would describe this game between two of the winningest programs in college football since the 1990's.
The Kansas State Wildcats are an above average team led by legendary coach Bill Snyder (178-90-1) with 2 outright Conference titles. Aptly named the Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium, the place the Wildcats call home is under renovation. Check out this video depicting the next phase scheduled to start after the 2014 season.
Now lets take a closer look at K State and how they operate.
K State is led by QB Jake Waters, a 6' 1" 210 lb.Senior, (159-260 2,469 yds.) an accurate passer who threw for 18 TD's last season against only 9 INT's. Waters shared the QB duties with Daniel Sams, a 6' 2" 207 lb. Junior in 2013. Together they orchestrated a mid-season turnaround in 2013 winning 6 of its final 7 games including a walloping 31-14 victory over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.This may not be the case in 2014 however, as Sams has listed on his twitter feed that he is now a WR.
The Wildcats return all three Seniors from the interior of their offensive line, and return All-American Tyler Lockett who is a fantastic Kick Returner/Wide Receiver.
The defense of Kansas State also returns an All-American from the 2013 season. DE Ryan Mueller who led the team in sacks setting a school record at 11.5 with a total of 18.5 tackles for a loss. Experience also returns at the Line Backer position, and in the defensive backfield.
The defense allowed only an average of 22.9 points per game last season, and a workman 3.9 yards per carry.
This game can be very tricky for the Tigers. A Thursday night game on the road against a strong opponent is a challenge. The one saving grace is that the previous week the Wildcats will have traveled to Ames, Iowa to play in conference foe Iowa State.
If Auburn can control the line of scrimmage offensively, and I think they can for the most part, the Tiger offense is versatile enough to keep the defense guessing. Auburn will run a lot more, at least early in this game, to avoid the All-American Mueller from giving the home standing Wildcats any momentum.
Defensively, Auburn must bottle up the middle of the line, and keep K State from running the ball inside. Force them to run outside, and the overall team speed of the Tigers should keep that part of the game in check.
Passing will be another matter. Auburn's defensive backfield will be tested in this game. A second year starter for the Wildcats, Jake Waters, who really found his groove in the second half of last season, accompanied by a returning All-American at WR, spells trouble for the secondary. This game will go a long way in telling how much the Tigers have improved defensively in 2014.
Both teams will have exceptional Special Teams play. An edge may fall to the Wildcats who have a returning FG kicker, and for being at home. Although last season on the road at Tennessee, the Tigers proved they can be just as devastating away from home as they are in the last 0:01 of a ball game.
Because Auburn hold a 3-0 lead in the series, and this Auburn team seems to be more focused than any in recent memory at this time of year, I give the edge to Auburn. But it won't be easy. Lets say...
Auburn 42 Kansas State 34