80F Bill Snyder Stadium, Manhattan, KS
Oklahoma's attempt at an unbeaten season ended in stunning fashion last week, likely costing the Sooners a shot at the BCS national title.
Kansas State is trying to avoid a similar fate, but the team will need to serve Oklahoma a second straight Big 12 defeat for the first time in 13 years.
The No. 10 Wildcats will try to maintain their best unbeaten run in 12 years Saturday when they attempt to halt a four-game slide against the Sooners in Manhattan.
Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) was the preseason No. 1 in the AP poll, and winning its first six games by an average of 29.5 points seemed to justify those lofty expectations of competing for a national championship.
That run came to an abrupt end last Saturday, and the title aspirations may have gone along with it when the Sooners fell 41-38 to Texas Tech to end their 39-game winning streak at home.
"Every team's going to face adversity and it's the good teams that deal with it the best," said linebacker Travis Lewis, a defensive captain. "So, hopefully we've got strong guys that are going to deal with it the right way."
Kansas State (7-0, 4-0) didn't have nearly the same preseason expectations - it received no votes in the preseason AP Top 25 poll - but has turned its underdog status into its best start since winning the first nine games in 1999 to move into eighth in the BCS standings - one spot ahead of the Sooners.
"It has been an awesome journey so far," quarterback Collin Klein said. "The job is not done and we have to make sure that we keep our nose to the grindstone and not look too far ahead or back behind to distract us."
The Wildcats cruised to a 59-21 thumping of Kansas last Saturday, but are in for their toughest test yet. Beating Oklahoma for the first time since winning the 2003 conference title game could bolster their case for being considered a viable national title contender.
Oklahoma, though, hasn't dropped back-to-back conference games since a four-game slide in October 1998.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder thinks his team understands the severity of this challenge.
"They all understand the significance of the ballgame and the tremendous team that we are playing, but how you prepare does not or should not really change," he said.
Despite being undefeated, the Wildcats own the lowest-rated offense in the Big 12, averaging 354.7 yards. Much of their offensive success comes on the ground, as they rank third with 213.9 yards per game.
Klein and running back John Hubert are the main reason for that with 670 and 637 yards, respectively. Klein's 14 rushing touchdowns lead the conference, and he has completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 934 yards with eight scores and three interceptions.
Klein's feet were more productive than his arm again last week, scampering for four TDs and 92 yards on 13 attempts while throwing for 195 yards on 12 for 19 passing with one touchdown.
"I have been able to make some improvements, but I still have a lot of room to improve," Klein said. "Coach Snyder instills and has instilled into me and all of us that it is the focus that we need to have, that there is better out there and it is just about going out and getting it."
He's facing a Sooners' defense that's surrendered 264 rushing yards over the last two games, and gave up 572 total last week.
"Kansas State will beat the living heck out of us if we don't make improvement, along with anyone else we're going to play. If this doesn't show you that, then you're pretty unrealistic," Stoops said of last week's loss.
"But if we can ... show some character and make some improvements from this, who knows what can happen?"
The offense, led by quarterback Landry Jones, ranks third in the Big 12 with an average of 545.6 yards.
Jones, though, thinks learning from the loss to the Red Raiders is important to prevent Oklahoma from falling into a tailspin.
"We've just got to learn from it. Learn from a loss and move on and if we don't get better from it, then we'll repeat this process again and we'll lose to another team," Jones said. "If we learn from it, move on and start playing better football, we'll be all right."
Jones is among the best signal callers in the league, completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 2,589 with 21 touchdowns and seven picks. He matched his career high with five scoring passes last week, and was 26 of 37 for 294 yards with four TDs and no INTs against Kansas State two years ago.
Ryan Broyles hauled in two of those touchdown passes from Jones in that meeting and finished with 91 yards on eight catches. The senior leads the league with 899 receiving yards, and his nine scoring grabs tie him with Baylor's Kendall Wright for tops in the Big 12.
The Sooners are facing the top-ranked defense in the conference, but Kansas State has surrendered 671 passing yards over the last two contests.