In perhaps the biggest game of the Eli Drinkwitz era, the Missouri Tigers (2-0) have an opportunity for a statement win against the 15th ranked Kansas State Wildcats (2-0) in front of a sell-out crowd at Faurot Field. Given how last week went against Middle Tennessee, it sure will be tall task for Mizzou to pull off an upset against Chris Kleiman’s Kanas State quad — who have looked really impressive in their first two games.
Mizzou vs Kansas State is one of four undefeated Power Five match ups on Saturday:
Undefeated P5 vs. P5 games next week:— Matt Smith (@MattSmithCFB) September 10, 2023
Kansas State at Missouri
Minnesota at North Carolina
Washington at Michigan State - Peacock :(
BYU at Arkansas
That's all. We will get through it and enjoy it.
Kick-off in COMO is set for 11:00 a.m. CST on the SEC Network. To preview the upcoming game — we talked it over with Jon Morse over at Kansas State’s SB Nation site Bring On The Cats.
Here’s the Q&A to get you ready:
Sammy Stava: Kansas State took care of business to start the season with two convincing wins (45-0 over SEMO and 42-13 over Troy). What have we learned about the Wildcats from those two performances against lesser competition?
Jon Morse: The most important thing we’ve learned so far is that Kansas State’s front seven may be one of the best in the country. The Wildcats have the best rushing defense in Division I so far, allowing only 38 yards per game, and the secondary hasn’t suffered as a result – indicating the linebackers are still doing their job linebacking.
We’ve also learned that K-State does, in fact, have depth at receiver, and that the loss of Deuce Vaughn isn’t that critical. DJ Giddens is at 90 yards/game and 6.7 yards/carry, which is unsurprising since last season it was Giddens, not Vaughn, who led the team in YPC.
SS: After winning the Big 12 Championship and a trip to the Sugar Bowl, Kansas State has lost two key contributors from last season’s team in Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Duece Vaughn. What do you think the ceiling is for this year’s Wildcats team?
JM: Sky’s the limit, honestly, but Kansas State being Kansas State something usually comes along to spoil the party. There is a swagger to this team we haven’t seen since the late 90s, and if you don’t actually remember that time, you’ve probably heard enough about it.
That said, I have been a Kansas State fan long enough not to assume anything one way or the other about a Kansas State squad until November. The only real flaws we’ve seen so far are directly related to the absence of a couple of guys who suffered injuries aren’t 100% yet, which bodes well, but at the same time it’s hard to get any read on a team when all they’ve played is an FCS squad and a G5 squad – playoff FCS squad and a 12-2 G5 conference champion notwithstanding.
SS: Through the first two games, Kansas State quarterback Will Howard is 39/58 with 547 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. How would you assess his play so far?
JM: Howard’s interception in game one was just a bad decision all around, but it was also early in game one of the season, so you can sort of just shrug at that. The interception against Troy we’ve mostly decided was the receiver’s fault, and as it happens that receiver was the intended target for every single bad ball Howard threw against the Trojans.
I dunno, what crosses your mind when that’s the case?
In other words, Howard’s done just fine in the early going, and his general pattern has been to improve game-by-game as the season progresses.
SS: Other than the quarterback Will Howard, who are some other players on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball that Mizzou fans need to pay attention to?
JM: I’ve mentioned Giddens already, and his partner in the backfield, Florida State transfer Treshaun Ward, is on pace for over 700 yards on the season. Howard’s most consistent targets so far have been Jadon Jackson and Phillip Brooks, who it feels like has been here since the Nixon Administration. There’s also Iowa transfer Keagan Johnson, who didn’t see action against SEMO or in the first half against Troy because he’s also rehabbing but came in during the second half and made a couple of good catches, and you already know about H-back Ben Sinnott.
On defense, I could rattle off literally fifteen guys who’ve made big plays already. The big names you’re going to want to concern yourself with are linebackers Daniel Green and the team’s leading tackler Austin Moore, who is seemingly in on every play inside the secondary. On the line, Nate Matlack is the main horse, but Anudike-Uzomah’s replacement as Sack Master is EDGE Khalid Duke, who’s already registered three on the season. In the secondary, you’re probably not going to notice Jacob Parrish because if the first two games are any indication Brady Cook’s going to be told not to throw the ball anywhere near him. Will Lee and Kobe Savage are back there ready to cause Cook problems, too.
SS: Alright, we all know what happened last season as Kansas State won 40-12 (more like 40-6). This one should at least be a more competitive game since it’s in Columbia. How do you see this game going on Saturday? Have a final score prediction?
JM: I dislike making predictions, because really all they do is irritate the opposing fanbase. Gun to my head, I expect K-State will cover that spread, but that’s more based on what I’ve seen so far from the Tigers than any particular optimism about K-State. Schrader’s going to have a long day, and if Cook’s only able to manage 188 YPG against an FCS school and MTSU, he’s probably going to be frustrated as well.