- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - All those high hopes Oklahoma had going into the season are in danger of being dashed.

Before the season, the 11th-ranked Sooners were talking confidently about seeking a national title, but lately, they haven’t looked like contenders. Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) lost to TCU two weeks ago and got a scare last Saturday before holding off Texas. The Sooners now enter Saturday’s game against No. 14 Kansas State (4-1, 2-0) focused on simpler goals.

“All that matters is what are we able to do here this week to give ourselves a better opportunity to beat Kansas State, and that’s what really matters,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “Nothing down the road matters but that. So that’s how we go about every day, is working to be better and be prepared as we can be for Kansas State and play our best.”

Kansas State, which has one of the stingiest defenses in the Big 12, could creep into the playoff picture with a win over the Sooners on the road.

“We can play with anyone, and we know that,” Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters said. “We know that anyone can beat anyone, it all depends on how you execute and if you see things and eliminate the mistakes. We are going to have to play a great game to beat Oklahoma.”

Here are some things to watch on Saturday:

KNIGHT’S SLUMP: Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight has struggled a bit in his past two games. He completed just 14 of 35 passes and threw two critical interceptions in the loss to TCU, then threw for just 129 yards against Texas. His season completion percentage of 55 percent is among the worst in college football. The Sooners aren’t happy with their inconsistent passing game, and the coaching staff has talked about adding some of the team’s young, talented receivers who haven’t played much to the rotation to help Sterling Shepard.

Knight had a big game against Kansas State last year in a 41-31 win, passing for 171 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 82 yards and another score. Oklahoma has been hesitant to unleash Knight as a runner this season, but the Sooners may need to against the Wildcats.

WATERS BOILING: Waters passed for 290 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 105 yards and another score last Saturday in a 45-13 rout of Texas Tech.

“Jake’s doing a great job for them,” Stoops said. “Great arm. He can run it. He does a nice job running it when they ask him to, a few times a game. He does a nice job at the line of scrimmage with changing their plays. He’s executing the way they want him to.”

STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH: Oklahoma’s Alex Ross leads the nation in kickoff return average. With 45.7 yards per return. His 91-yard runback for a touchdown was a key play against Texas.

“I was just looking for a hole and that hole finally opened up,” he said. “I ran through it and saw the kicker there and felt sorry for him.”

Kansas State is the best in the Big 12 at covering kickoffs, so he might get tested.

TYLER LOCKETT: Oklahoma had better figure out where he is this year. Last year, Kansas State’s versatile star caught 12 passes for a school-record 278 yards and three touchdowns and returned five kickoffs for 162 yards to set the school record of 440 all-purpose yards.

“Tyler puts pressure on every secondary,” Stoops said. “Every week you watch him and he’s making plays, so you have to be aware of where he’s at and what your coverage responsibilities are. He’s a great weapon for them.”

ZACK SANCHEZ: Sanchez got his first career interception last season against Kansas State and ran it back 74 yards for a touchdown. He’s been a ball hawk ever since, with five interceptions this season and seven in his career. The Sooners are 7-0 when he intercepts a pass. He also has a blocked field goal and returned an extra point attempt for two points this season.


Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .

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