Stillwater, Okla. A year ago, cornerback Tyler Patmon was preparing to start at nickelback for Kansas University’s football team at Texas Tech.
Today, he’s in line to play against Kansas.
Patmon, a fifth-year senior who graduated from KU last May and left the Jayhawks’ program to pursue playing opportunities elsewhere, is expected to start at cornerback for the 14th-ranked Oklahoma State squad that enters the game at 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the Big 12 but, somehow, has spent the past few games avoiding the hype that followed after being picked to win the conference in the preseason.
For Patmon, who actually led the Jayhawks in tackles during that Texas Tech game last year, today’s reunion — 3 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 — is one that surely has been on his mind since choosing OSU last offseason. For the Jayhawks, the chance to challenge a former teammate offers just as much excitement.
“T-Pat’s a competitor, too,” KU linebacker Ben Heeney said. “And he wants to win as much as (any of us). He’s still a good friend of mine, and it’s gonna be fun to go out there and play against him this weekend.”
Heeney said he had no experience facing a former teammate, but added that the focus, especially for KU’s defense, would be on the OSU offense and not Patmon.
“It’s gonna be weird,” Heeney said. “But I think it’s a bigger deal for him because he used to play here (with) all of us, and he’s just one guy on their team. But we’re all aware of it, and I’m excited to play him this week.”
For the sixth consecutive week, the Kansas football team is facing an opponent that prefers up-tempo football as its offensive attack of choice. And while the fast-paced attack forces the defense to stay sharp from start to finish, KU linebackers coach Clint Bowen said there exists one issue that makes dealing with the tempo a major challenge.
“If they’re going to sprint to the ball, at that point in time when the QB’s up there selling it, you have to be aligned and ready to play in what you’re gonna play,” Bowen said. “When it’s a fake count, they’ve obviously just seen what you were going to do.”
That turns things into what Bowen described as a “cat and mouse” game and forces the defense to counter the offense’s audibles with changes of its own. Bowen said KU has done a solid job of getting calls in to thwart any offensive changes, and he credits the defense’s overall improvement against up-tempo offenses as a big reason for that.
“Tempo hasn’t been an issue in our games,” he said. “I believe in the system that we’ve put into place to handle tempo, and I think our kids have a very good understanding of it.”
Oklahoma State leads the all-time series 32-29-2 but is just 14-14-1 all-time against KU in Stillwater.
The Cowboys have won three straight in the series by an average score of 35-14, including a 70-28 pasting during the Jayhawks last trip to OSU in 2011.
KU’s last victory in the series came in 2007, when the Todd Reesing-led Jayhawks topped the Cowboys, 43-28, in Stillwater.
OSU heavy favorite
Once again, the Jayhawks enter today’s game as heavy underdogs, according to the folks in Las Vegas.
Oklahoma State is favored in today’s match-up by 31 points, but that number actually is down a point from where it opened earlier this week.
Still, it marks the fifth consecutive week that KU’s opponent has been favored by 21 points or more.
It’s just the second-highest spread the Jayhawks have encountered this season, though. Baylor was a 35-point favorite heading into the Bears’ 59-14 victory in Lawrence.
KU is 3-5 against the spread this season and has covered in three of its last four games.