- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Oklahoma needs an impressive performance.
The Sooners have looked subpar in their past two games, a loss to TCU and a win over Texas. But a Big 12 title could still come into play if things fall right for the Sooners during the rest of the conference schedule. Here are five stats to keep on an eye on when No. 11 Oklahoma hosts No. 14 Kansas State on Saturday.
OU's yards per carry: The Sooners' offensive success is directly related to success on the ground. As OU’s yards per carry go up, so do the Sooners’ total points. Against Tulsa, OU averaged a season-best 8.42 yards per carry and scored 52 points. Against Texas, OU averaged a season-low 3.43 yards per carry and scored a season-low 31 points. When OU runs the ball at will it sets up everything else on the offense.
Number of receptions by OU’s other receivers: No. 1 receiver Sterling Shepard has been a star with 34 receptions for 714 yards and four touchdowns. Other receivers have been productive including Durron Neal (23 receptions) and K.J. Young (13 receptions) but no receiver has brought explosive playmaking or another consistent threat to the offense. If another receiver can have a 100-yard receiving game it would be a great sign for OU against the Wildcats and beyond.
Quarterback Trevor Knight's turnovers: The Sooners quarterback is averaging one turnover per game with five interceptions and one fumble lost in six games. If he takes care of the ball, OU will like its chances to win. With a strong defense and solid running game, OU doesn’t need its sophomore quarterback to win the game, they just need him to make sure he doesn’t lose it.
Kansas State’s third-down conversion rate: The Wildcats lead the Big 12, converting 50.8 percent of their third-down attempts. OU’s defense is allowing opponents to convert 40.2 percent of their third-down attempts, ranking eighth in the Big 12. The Sooners will have to do a great job of stopping KSU’s creative third-down plays if they hope to win this battle of top-25 teams. The key could be success on first and second down, forcing plenty of third-and-long situations for the Wildcats.
KSU receiver Tyler Lockett's all-purpose yards: The senior receiver single-handedly kept KSU in the game against the Sooners a year ago with 440 all-purpose yards including 278 receiving yards. He averaged 25.9 yards per touch in a 41-31 Sooners’ win. OU will look to force the Wildcats to turn to another playmaker on offense and special teams while KSU will turn to Lockett when it needs a big play. A big game from Lockett would make securing a win much harder for the Sooners.