Posts tagged with Kansas Football

West Virginia likes to run the ball, take it away

After limiting high-scoring TCU to 23 points in a road loss last week, the Kansas football team will have to find ways to slow down a different kind of attack with West Virginia coming to Memorial Stadium Saturday (11 a.m. kickoff, FOX Sports Net).

The Mountaineers (5-4 overall, 2-4 Big 12) have adapted and become more reliant on the run this season. WVU averages 224.2 yards on the ground (compared to 227.8 through the air). And with Kansas allowing 255.4 rushing yards per game, the Jayhawks could be in some trouble.

Now in his fifth season at WVU, coach Dana Holgorsen’s teams are known for posting monster yardage numbers:

- 56 games with 300 or more yards of total offense

- 41 games with 400 or more yards

-21 games with more than 500 yards

- 9 games with more than 600 yards

But West Virginia creates opportunities for its offense by taking the ball away, too. The Mountaineers rank 4th in the nation with 16 interceptions and 8th nationally with 22 total takeaways.

With those numbers in mind, here are the WVU players who should grab the attention of first-year Kansas coach David Beaty and the winless Jayhawks (0-10, 0-7).

FIVE MOUNTAINEERS TO WATCH

No. 4: RB Wendell Smallwood | 5-11, 202, jr.

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood breaks into the secondary during the Mountaineers’ 45-6 win over Maryland on Sept. 26 in Morgantown, West Virginia.

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood breaks into the secondary during the Mountaineers’ 45-6 win over Maryland on Sept. 26 in Morgantown, West Virginia. by Raymond Thompson/AP Photo

  • When you have a high-powered run game, typically one man carries the load. For WVU, junior running back Wendell Smallwood is that man. Smallwood ranks 11th in the country in rushing yards per carry (6.7), 14th in rushing yard per game (124.3) and 22nd in all-purpose yards (138.3).

  • With Smallwood putting up 165 rushing yards in a 38-20 victory over Texas last week, WVU only had to throw the ball 12 times.

  • His 6 rushing touchdowns lead WVU this season.

  • With three regular-season games to go, Smallwood already holds the title of a 1,000-yard rusher. He has 1,119 and counting.

  • Smallwood even averaged 7.7 yards per carry against a stout Oklahoma State defense earlier this season.

  • The RB’s 21 receptions ranks him third on the team. But they usually come in small doses, with a season long of 13 yards.

No. 3: QB Skyler Howard | 6-0, 206, jr.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) avoids Texas Tech linebacker D'Vonta Hinton (34) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) avoids Texas Tech linebacker D'Vonta Hinton (34) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

  • With a reliable ground game, junior WVU quarterback Skyler Howard doesn’t have to force much, and he completes 56.9% of his passes.

  • Howard averages 221.9 passing yards an outing, and has thrown 18 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.

  • Against Texas last week, Howard went 10-for-12 through the air for 122 yards and, more importantly, a pair of touchdowns.

  • The fifth-year senior matched his personal-best single-game mark with 21 completions against both Liberty and Maryland earlier this season.

  • This QB can run, too. Howard took off for a 50-yard score against Oklahoma in early October.

No. 1: WR Shelton Gibson | 5-11, 192, so.

West Virginia wide receiver Shelton Gibson (1) beats Maryland defensive back Sean Davis (21) to the end zone during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

West Virginia wide receiver Shelton Gibson (1) beats Maryland defensive back Sean Davis (21) to the end zone during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

  • When Howard drops back to pass, he has a legit deep threat to target in sophomore wide receiver Shelton Gibson. The 5-foot-11 play-maker ranks 3rd in the nation in yards per reception — an astounding 23.04.

  • Earlier this fall, at Baylor, Howard and Gibson connected for a 70-yard score.

  • Gibson went for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 6 catches against Maryland in September.

  • Dangerous on special teams, as well, he took a kick return 100 yards for a TD at Baylor.

  • It should be pointed out, though, that the past two weeks Texas Tech and Texas shut Gibson out: 0 catches, 0 yards in each of those games. Will KU also play deep in the secondary to take Gibson away, or will the hungry WR explode back on the scene?

No. 7: CB Daryl Worley | 6-1, 202, jr.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is upended by West Virginia’s Daryl Worley (7) in this photo from Oct. 18, 2014, in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is upended by West Virginia’s Daryl Worley (7) in this photo from Oct. 18, 2014, in Morgantown, West Virginia.

  • When KU has the ball, and true freshman QB Ryan Willis scans the field on passing downs, he’ll need to be keenly aware of junior WVU cornerback Daryl Worley. With 14 passes defended through nine games, Worley ranks 11th nationally.

  • Four times this season, Worley has come away with an interception. (That puts him 1 behind teammate Karl Joseph’s 5 picks.)

  • Worley 3 pass breakups in one game, at Baylor.

  • The defensive back came up with a crucial first-half fumble recovery at Texas that helped WVU take control.

  • The past 2 weeks, Worley is averaging 7.0 solo tackles per game.

No. 7: RB Rushel Shell | 5-10, 224, jr.

West Virginia's Rushel Shell (7) runs by the TCU defense during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Phpto/Tyler Evert)

West Virginia's Rushel Shell (7) runs by the TCU defense during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Phpto/Tyler Evert) by Tyler Evert

  • One more running back for Kansas to worry about, Rushel Shell averages 4.0 yards per carry and has 5 rushing TDs on the season.

  • Shell led WVU with 111 rushing yards and scored twice against Texas Tech.

  • In 5 of the past 6 WVU games, Shell has carried the ball 12 or more times, with a season-high 20 coming against Oklahoma, when he netted 72 yards and a TD.

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Getting to know No. 13 TCU — and its explosive offense

Not that the Kansas football team had any control over the matter — or that better timing would’ve meant a KU win — but the winless Jayhawks probably couldn’t face TCU at a worse time.

The No. 13-ranked Horned Frogs (8-1 overall, 5-1 Big 12) just had their 16-game winning streak snapped, with a 20-point loss at Oklahoma State.

Coach Gary Patterson’s team planned on contending a spot in the College Football Playoff entering this season, and even though a regular-season loss makes that more difficult, you can bet that’s still the prize TCU is after.

So the Horned Frogs, who also remember last season’s 34-30 win at KU being closer than they would’ve liked, will be locked in and ready to dispose of David Beaty’s Jayhawks (0-9, 0-6).

We’re all familiar with KU’s defensive struggles (see: allowing 58 points at Oklahoma State, 62 vs. Oklahoma and 59 at Texas during the past three weeks). Well, TCU could easily surpass those numbers.

TCU leads the nation with seven games of at least 600 yards of total offense, and the Horned Frogs are second nationally at 621.4 yards per game (Baylor leads the country at 665.6).

If TCU has any drop-off against Kansas, it might have to do with losing wide receiver Josh Doctson to a left wrist injury. Doctson had six straight games with at least 100 receiving yards and multiple touchdown catches.

That’s one less Horned Frog the Jayhawks have to worry about Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium. But TCU still has loads of talent, and players waiting to expose KU’s weaknesses.

FIVE HORNED FROGS TO WATCH

No. 2: QB Trevone Boykin | 6-2, 205, sr.

TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin (2) avoids a tackle by Oklahoma State’s Trace Clark, right, during the Cowboys’ 49-29 win Saturday in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs host Kansas at 11 a.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin (2) avoids a tackle by Oklahoma State’s Trace Clark, right, during the Cowboys’ 49-29 win Saturday in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs host Kansas at 11 a.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. by Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo

  • Heisman candidate and TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin leads the nation in total offense (441.1 yards per game) and has thrown a TD pass in 24 consecutive games — tied for the longest streak in the country with Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty.

  • Boykin has completed 65.9% of his throws this year, for 29 TDs, 9 interceptions and 3,733 yards.

  • With 2,034 career rushing yards and 26 career TDs on the ground to go with his passing skills, Boykin really can do it all.

  • Since 2012, Boykin leads the nation in accounting for the highest percentage of his team’s total offense (57.8%). No one else in that span is above 50%.

No. 22: RB Aaron Green | 5-11, 205, sr.

TCU running back Aaron Green races past Kansas safety Fish Smithson for a touchdown during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

TCU running back Aaron Green races past Kansas safety Fish Smithson for a touchdown during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

  • TCU senior running back Aaron Green should be happy to see KU. Last season, Green rushed for 128 yards and 2 TDs vs. the Jayhawks.

  • The RB has 7 career 100-yard rushing games and looks to add to that total vs. Kansas (allowing 252.8 yards per game on the ground).

  • Green leads TCU with 796 rushing yards, averages 5.3 a carry and is on pace for a 1,000-yard season.

  • Green became the first TCU player since LaDanian Tomlinson in 2000 to rush for at least 160 yards in back-to-back games when he ran for 164 and 162 in consecutive weeks versus SMU and Texas Tech.

No. 25: WR KaVontae Turpin | 5-9, 152, fr.

TCU wide receiver KaVontae Turpin (25) tries to get outside of Texas linebacker Peter Jinkens (19) in the second half of an NCAA football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

TCU wide receiver KaVontae Turpin (25) tries to get outside of Texas linebacker Peter Jinkens (19) in the second half of an NCAA football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

  • A receiver and return specialist, undersized freshman KaVontae Turpin now figures to become Boykin’s top target, since Doctson is out. His 32 catches ranks first among Horned Frogs who will be in uniform Saturday.

  • Turpin has a pair of 100-yard receiving games already.

  • No TCU skill players reach the end zone as well as Doctson, but Turpin has 6 TD receptions of his own.

  • Between catching Boykin passes and making things happen on special teams, Turpin averages 16.4 yards per touch, the best mark among the nation’s freshmen.

No. 32: MLB Travin Howard | 6-1, 190, so.

None by Max Faulkner

  • Just a sophomore, linebacker Travin Howard leads TCU with 59 total tackles.

  • A converted safety, Howard has only started seven games this season while becoming a standout defender.

  • Along with 2 forced fumbles, Howard has made big plays with 5 tackles for loss and an interception.

  • Howard made a career-high 12 stops against Texas.

No. 26: FS Derrick Kindred | 5-10, 210, sr.

None by Brad Hardcastle

  • Just a few plays behind Howard, senior safety Derrick Kindred has 56 total tackles from the back end of TCU’s defense.

  • Kindred is the Frogs’ active leader in career tackles, with 204.

  • While no one else on the roster has more than 1 interception in his career, Kindred has 7 picks.

  • The lone starter from last year’s defense who didn’t graduate, Kindred is responsible for the team’s last non-offensive TD: a 60-yard pick-six at Kansas State.

  • The safety also occasionally blitzes, and has 3.5 tackles for loss, as well as 2 forced fumbles.

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Getting to know Texas — and UT’s 2 QBs

Somehow, after beating Oklahoma and Kansas State, Texas lost on the road to Iowa State last weekend, 24-0.

For the Longhorns (3-5 overall, 2-3 Big 12), the timing couldn’t be better to see those crimson and blue uniforms of Kansas (0-8, 0-5) lining up across from them on Saturday night at Darrell K. Royal Stadium.

The KU defense is allowing 47.1 points per game. Let that soak in. That points allowed average ranks 126th in the nation. Believe it or not, the Jayhawks are a notch lower in total defense, surrendering 581.5 yards a game (127th in FBS).

Texas never has lost to KU at home, and with a 12-2 all-time record against the Jayhawks, the Longhorns’ losses in the series came in 1901 and 1938.

UT shut out Kansas, 23-0, in the final game of the infamous Charlie Weis era last season, and has won the previous four meetings by a combined score of 122-30 — average of 30.5-3.8.

Here are five Longhorns KU coach David Beaty and his winless Jayhawks need to worry about in Austin, Texas.

FIVE LONGHORNS TO WATCH

No. 13: QB Jerrod Heard | 6-2, 195, RS-fr.

Texas' Jerrod Heard (13) runs around Oklahoma State defender Jordan Burton (20) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Oklahoma State won 30-27.(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Texas' Jerrod Heard (13) runs around Oklahoma State defender Jordan Burton (20) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Oklahoma State won 30-27.(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • A red-shirt freshman, Jerrod Heard is more of a running threat than a passing aficionado for the UT offense. Heard leads the team in rushing yards, with 502, and has 3 touchdowns.

  • Heard’s passing stats aren’t great: 66-for-111, 839 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs. But the fact that he has exactly as many rushing attempts (111) as passes makes him more difficult to defend from down to down.

  • In UT’s marquee win over Oklahoma, Heard rushed for 115 yards…

  • … But his best performance to date came in his second career start, vs. Cal. The freshman QB set a Texas record for total offense in one game (527 yards), surpassing Vince Young’s 506 yards vs. Oklahoma State in 2005. Heard rushed for 163 yards and 3 TDs, and threw for 364.

No. 18: QB Tyrone Swoopes | 6-4, 244, jr.

Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes celebrates after running in a touchdown against Kansas during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes celebrates after running in a touchdown against Kansas during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

  • The man Heard replaced as starting QB still plays an important role in the UT offense, which features an “18-wheeler” short-yardage package for junior Tyrone Swoopes.

  • Texas uses Swoopes in short-yardage situations, and just two weeks ago he came up huge vs. K-State, with three rushing TDs. UT sealed the game late with Swoopes running for gains of 13, 29 and 10 yards on one series.

  • Since UT came up with the package, Swoopes is averaging 5.2 yards per rush and has scored 5 rushing TDs, to go with a passing TD, which came against OU.

  • Last year against KU, Swoopes passed for 2 TDs and ran for another.

No. 32: RB Johnathan Gray | 5-10, 211, sr.

None by HornSports.com

  • The Longhorns’ featured running back, senior Johnathan Gray almost gets as many looks within the offense as Heard.

  • Gray has 102 carries for 411 yards and 3 TDs this season.

  • The senior rushed for a season-high 103 yards against K-State.

  • He ran for 46 yards and a pair of TDs vs. Cal.

  • Gray currently ranks 12th all-time at UT in career rushing yards, with 2,520. He is 145 yards from passing Hodges Mitchell and getting into the top 10.

No. 19: LB Peter Jinkens | 6-0, 230, sr.

None by The Daily Texan

  • UT’s leading tackler on defense, senior linebacker Peter Jinkens has 61 total tackles, making 38 of those on his own. A play-maker, Jinkens also leads the defense with 7.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks.

  • In UT’s loss to ISU, Jinkens came away with 2.0 sacks and 9 tackles — both led the team.

  • In Big 12 play, the strong-side LB has 38 total tackles, which ranks 9th in the conference.

  • His season-high of 10 tackles came against Notre Dame.

No. 14: S Dylan Haines | 6-1, 193, jr.

Texas defensive back Dylan Haines, front, tackles California's Stephen Anderson during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Haines was called for "targeting" and ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

Texas defensive back Dylan Haines, front, tackles California's Stephen Anderson during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Haines was called for "targeting" and ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

  • When Texas makes a play against an opponent’s pass, it’s usually junior safety Dylan Haines making it happen. Haines’ 3 interceptions lead UT.

  • A former walk-on, the strong safety has now started 20 games in his career. In 2014, he led Texas with 4 picks, ranked 2nd with 7 pass breakups and finished 3rd in tackles with 86.

  • Haines had to leave the Cal game early on Sept. 19 after getting called for targeting in the first quarter.

  • This season, Haines has 32 tackles (25 solo), to go with 1.0 sack, 1.0 TFL and 3 pass breakups.

  • His late interception vs. K-State stymied the Wildcats’ attempt to come back.

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Getting to know No. 14 Oklahoma, and its monster RB

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops walks off the field after the Sooners’ 36-20 loss to Texas in the Red River Rivalry on Saturday in Dallas. OU — 14-0 under Stoops in games played after the UT game — will play Saturday at Kansas.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops walks off the field after the Sooners’ 36-20 loss to Texas in the Red River Rivalry on Saturday in Dallas. OU — 14-0 under Stoops in games played after the UT game — will play Saturday at Kansas.

Even if you have heard this one before, don’t stop. Because the details of the challenges that lie ahead for Kansas football do vary from week to week — though the results in the win-loss column have not.

This Saturday, the winless Jayhawks and first-year coach David Beaty have to deal with No. 14 Oklahoma (6-1 overall, 3-1 Big 12). [Insert horrifying Halloween joke here.]

Since a surprising loss to Texas three weeks ago, the Sooners seem to be taking out their frustrations from that setback on their opponents, with back-to-back drubbings of Kansas State, 55-0, and Texas Tech, 63-27.

And if you follow KU football, you probably realize just how much the Jayhawks struggle against Oklahoma. In particular, Stoops is 10-0 against Kansas, and since he took over in Norman the average score in the KU-OU games is 39-12.

Kansas also enters its homecoming game (2:30 p.m. kickoff, Saturday at Memorial Stadium) on a 10-game losing streak, dating back to last season.

OU racked up 405 rushing yards last week vs. Texas Tech. KU’s success against the run this season? Not so great. The Jayhawks are allowing 244.9 yards a game (9th in Big 12, and 118th nationally).

Again, you just might remember how Oklahoma ran over, through and around Kansas last year. And that’s a perfect place to start our list of Sooners who should have the Jayhawks’ attention.

FIVE SOONERS TO WATCH

No. 32: RB Samaje Perine | 5-10, 230, soph.

Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine (32) has blockers as he heads up the field against the Kansas defense during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine (32) has blockers as he heads up the field against the Kansas defense during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

  • All running back Samaje Perine did last year against Kansas was set an FBS record with 427 rushing yards. Four hundred twenty seven rushing yards! In one game. Not to mention five touchdowns. As a freshman.

  • Perine is feeling good entering his second appearance against Kansas, too, coming off a 201-yard, four-TD showing against the Red Raiders.

  • Four times in his young career, Perine has gone for at least 200 yards on the ground and four scores.

  • Perine already has 2,000 career rushing yards, becoming just the sixth Sooner in the Stoops era to reach that mark. He got there on his 326th career carry, meaning he did it faster than former stars DeMarco Murray (342) and Adrian Peterson (365).

  • His stat line this season reads: 116 carries, 621 yards, seven touchdowns.

  • Just FYI: he bench presses 440 pounds.

No. 25: RB Joe Mixon | 6-1, 217, R-fr.

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon (25) runs with the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon (25) runs with the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

  • What’s that you say? Another OU running back Kansas has to worry about? You bet. Joe Mixon would be the featured back at most programs — and maybe Oklahoma, too, if not for a major off-the-field issue.

  • Like Perine, Mixon destroyed TT, with 154 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

  • This RB gets involved in OU’s passing attack, as well. Mixon averages 55.3 rushing yards and 32.9 receiving yards a game. He has four rushing TD’s and three receiving TD’s.

  • Mixon was the No. 1-rated running back by Rivals and 247Sports coming out of high school.

  • So why didn’t he play last year? Mixon was suspended from the OU program in 2014, after being charged with a misdemeanor for punching a female student. He later accepted a plea bargain in the case.

Stoops addressed reinstating Mixon this summer, at Big 12 Media Days: “First, let me say there's no place for it,” Stoops began. “It should never happen. There's not only domestic violence, but there's violence towards women, there's violence in general. None of it should be tolerated, and it has been disciplined.”

No. 6: QB Baker Mayfield | 6-1, 209, jr.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against Texas during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against Texas during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

  • A former Texas Tech quarterback, junior Baker Mayfield has fit in just fine in OU’s offense. And he enjoyed seeing the Red Raiders last week, putting up 212 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

  • The QB has completed 67.5% of his passes this season, for 2,087 yards and 21 touchdowns.

  • Mayfield is averaging 298.1 passing yards a game and has only thrown four interceptions in his 212 attempts.

  • OU’s QB ranks sixth in FBS in passing TD’s a game (3.0) and 12th in total offensive yards per game (324.1).

  • As that last stat indicates, Mayfield can run the ball when needed. He rushed for 85 yards and two scores earlier this season, against Tulsa.

  • He absolutely lit up K-State, with five passing touchdowns — all coming in the first half of the rout in Manhattan.

No. 19: DE/OLB Eric Striker | 6-0, 222, sr.

Kansas wide running back Tony Pierson (3) is dragged down by Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker (19) during the quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas wide running back Tony Pierson (3) is dragged down by Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker (19) during the quarter on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

  • In last season’s 44-7 romp against Kansas, linebacker Eric Striker helped limit Kansas to 103 yards of total offense and no offensive points. Striker recovered a fumble and had two tackles for loss, as KU had just seven first downs and punted 11 times.

  • With six sacks this season, Striker now leads OU’s top sacking linebacker ever, with 21.5. He ranks sixth overall in program history.

  • During OU’s last four games, Striker has come away with 8.5 tackles for loss.

  • As if he wasn’t menacing enough on defense, Striker did something for the first time last week vs. Tech: he intercepted a pass. Oh, yeah, and still got 1.5 sacks.

  • Earlier this season against West Virginia, he had 12 tackles, 3.0 TFL, two sacks and a forced fumble.

No. 1: ILB Dominique Alexander | 6-0, 220, jr.

  • Striker wasn’t the only Sooner to nab his first career pick last week. Inside linebacker Dominique Alexander also pulled off that feat.

  • At 8.3 tackles per game, Alexander ranks fourth in the Big 12.

  • His 30 solo and 58 total tackles lead OU’s defense, and Alexander has 5.5 tackles for loss in 2015.

  • In his 33 career games — 28 starts — Alexander has 245 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles and two pass breakups.

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Getting to know No. 14 Oklahoma State, and its disruptive defense

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy signals during the second half of the Cactus Bowl NCAA college football game against Washington, Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy signals during the second half of the Cactus Bowl NCAA college football game against Washington, Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Sure, Oklahoma State brings averages of 37.3 points and 325.5 passing yards into Saturday’s home game against Kansas (19.2 points a game). But the Jayhawks and coach David Beaty will be even more concerned with what the Cowboys can do on the other side of the ball.

The OSU defense tends to wreak havoc, and has established itself as the strength of coach Mike Gundy’s team this season. In the past four games alone, the Cowboys (6-0 overall, 3-0 Big 12) have recovered eight fumbles.

Oklahoma State, which excels at pressuring the quarterback (more on that to come), has held four of its last five opponents under 200 yards passing. Kansas State got more than 200, but just barely — 207 — on Oct. 3. No such luck for Central Arkansas, Texas-San Antonio, Texas and West Virginia.

On the season, the Cowboys have allowed an average of 332.2 yards a game on defense, which ranks them 29th in the country.

As so often is the case in Big 12 matchups for Kansas, the Jayhawks haven’t defeated Oklahoma State since Todd Reesing played quarterback.

Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing looks to run during the first half Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.

Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing looks to run during the first half Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. by Nick Krug

The Cowboys have beaten KU in five consecutive meetings, and OSU has won 43 of its previous 48 games against unranked opponents.

For Kansas to have any kind of chance at Boone Pickens Stadium (2:30 p.m. kickoff, on FOX Sports 1), the offense will have to figure out ways to stay on the field — and score points — against a stingy OSU defense.

Here are five Oklahoma State defenders whom the Jayhawks should be worried about this weekend.

FIVE COWBOYS TO WATCH

No. 38: DE Emmanuel Ogbah | 6-4, 275, jr.

Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (38) is pictured during an NCAA college football game between Central Arkansas and Oklahoma St in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (38) is pictured during an NCAA college football game between Central Arkansas and Oklahoma St in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

• With 1.25 sacks a game, the massive junior defensive end ranks fifth in the nation and No. 1 in the Big 12 in disposing of quarterbacks.

• Nine times this seasons, Ogbah has hurried a quarterback, making him OSU’s all-time single-season leader in that category. With two more hurries this season, he’ll become the program’s all-time leader, with 18.

• In all six of OSU’s games this season, Ogbah has recorded at least one sack, a feat he has pulled off in 12 of his last 14 games.

• In other words: watch out, Ryan Willis. No. 38 is coming your way.

• Oklahoma State probably wouldn’t be undefeated if it wasn’t for Ogbah. He scored a defensive touchdown, forced a pair of fumbles, recovered a fumble, finished with eight tackles and sacked the quarterback once in the Cowboys’ 33-26 overtime victory at West Virginia two weeks ago.

No. 13: FS Jordan Sterns | 6-1, 205, jr.

Kansas freshman running back Corey Avery is ridden out of bounds by Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns during their game Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas freshman running back Corey Avery is ridden out of bounds by Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns during their game Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. by John Young

• OSU junior free safety Jordan Sterns just seems to end up at the ball. Sterns leads the Cowboys with 56 total tackles through six games, and has made 39 of those by himself.

• In three of the last four games, Sterns’ total tackles numbers have reached double digits.

• Averaging 9.3 tackles a game, Sterns leads the Big 12 in total tackles and ranks 23rd in the nation.

• Halfway through the fall, Sterns also has a tackle for loss, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

• In 2014, as a sophomore against West Virginia, the safety racked up 20 tackles. Twenty.

• Last season Sterns’ 103 tackles made him the first OSU underclassman to break the century mark. He also blocked two kicks in 2014.

No. 92: DE Jimmy Bean | 6-5, 250, sr.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty (14) keeps the ball and runs under pressure from Oklahoma State's Jimmy Bean (92) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty (14) keeps the ball and runs under pressure from Oklahoma State's Jimmy Bean (92) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

• As if having Ogbah on one end of the defensive line wasn’t enough for KU to worry about, senior defensive end Jimmy Bean can bring heat from the opposite end.

• Ogbah’s 1.83 tackles for loss rank him eighth in the NCAA, but Bean is bringing ball-carriers down in the backfield at nearly exact same rate: 1.75 (10th in the nation).

• In 2014, Bean had 3.5 sacks. Midway through his final college football season, he’s already at 5.5 sacks.

• A starter since the first week of his sophomore year, Bean has 10.5 tackles for loss this season.

• Surprisingly, Bean and Ogbah are not the top sack duo in the nation. That distinction belongs to Penn State’s Carl Nassib and Austin Johnson (13.5 sacks combined), who lead Bean and Ogbah by 0.5.

• Bean has hurried the QB two times this season.

No. 96: DT Vincent Taylor | 6-3, 300, soph.

Oklahoma State defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (96) during the first half/ second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

Oklahoma State defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (96) during the first half/ second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

• Guess what. OSU has another playmaker on the defensive line: sophomore tackle Vincent Taylor.

• A breakout star inside, Taylor made his first career sack in OSU’s season opener, and now has three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss as another disruptive force at the line of scrimmage.

• In the Cowboys’ overtime victory at WVU, Taylor finished with a career-best nine tackles — a difficult number to achieve as an interior lineman.

• Taylor has 26 tackles on the year.

No. 20: LB Jordan Burton | 6-3, 215, jr.

None by JuCo Football Forer

• A junior-college transfer who played his freshman year at Stephen F. Austin, junior linebacker Jordan Burton hasn’t had much trouble acclimating at Oklahoma State. Burton ranks second on the team in tackles, with 37.

• The new Cowboy came up with a sack and two tackles for loss in OSU’s victory over Kansas State.

• Another key player in Oklahoma State’s road win at West Virginia, Burton finished with 11 tackles his last time out.

• Through six games, the junior linebacker has 25 solo tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery.

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Getting to know the high-scoring Red Raiders

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury calls a play from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against TCU Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury calls a play from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against TCU Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Put on your sunglasses and get ready to see some offensive fireworks. Texas Tech and coach Kliff Kingsbury are coming to Kansas this weekend.

Seven days after facing a deadly Baylor offense, the Jayhawks (0-5 overall, 0-2 Big 12) will have to deal with another point-scoring machine — even if Kingsbury, whom David Beaty ranks among the top five humans he knows, decides not to pile on in the second half.

Texas Tech arrives in Lawrence averaging 52.7 points per game, which ranks only behind Baylor (64.2) in the nation. Plus, the Red Raiders are more pass-happy than the Bears and have the top-ranked passing offense (439.0 yards per game).

The Red Raiders — 15-1 all-time versus Kansas, including a 6-0 mark at Memorial Stadium — rarely have had trouble with the Jayhawks, and Saturday doesn’t figure to be any different. Texas Tech has won eight straight in the series, by an average of 18.3 points.

Last week against Iowa State, another struggling Big 12 team in 2015, Tech set a school record with 776 yards of offense (515 passing, 261 rushing) in a 66-31 drubbing. The Red Raiders (4-2 overall, 1-2 Big 12) even scored 52 points in a three-point loss to TCU.

So, once again, there are plenty of guys lining up across from Kansas about whom the Jayhawks should be worried.

FIVE RED RAIDERS TO WATCH

No. 11: WR Jakeem Grant | 5-6, 169, sr.

In this Sept. 26, 2015, file photo, Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant (11) runs in for a touchdown after a reception in the first half of an NCAA college football game against TCU in Lubbock, Texas. Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU all have a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver. The rest of the power-five conferences have only one such team, plus Notre Dame.(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

In this Sept. 26, 2015, file photo, Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant (11) runs in for a touchdown after a reception in the first half of an NCAA college football game against TCU in Lubbock, Texas. Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU all have a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver. The rest of the power-five conferences have only one such team, plus Notre Dame.(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

• The smallest man on the football field Saturday might also be the most dangerous one. Five-foot-six receiver extraordinaire Jakeem Grant averages 7.3 catches a game (No. 15 in the country) and 108.0 receiving yards per game (No. 10 nationally).

• The Red Raiders like to get creative and get the ball in his hands in as many ways as possible. Grant averages 14.7 yards per catch and 16.9 yards per touch.

• Grant has thrown a TD pass, returned a kickoff for a TD, rushed for a TD and, of course, caught a TD.

• With so many ways to burn defenses, Grant leads the Big 12 with 174.83 all-purpose yards per game.

• His three career kickoff returns for TDs make him Tech’s all-time leader in that category.

• Last week, Grant caught a 75-yard TD pass against Iowa State.

• KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said he’s more worried about Grant than any other Red Raider this week.

No. 5: QB Patrick Mahomes II | 6-3, 221, soph.

Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes (5) throws a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Zach Austin under pressure from Baylor defensive end Jamal Palmer (92) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes (5) throws a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Zach Austin under pressure from Baylor defensive end Jamal Palmer (92) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

• Through the first 10 starts of his developing career, sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes II has lit up opposing defenses, throwing for 3,692 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

• This season, which is going far better than 2014 (4-8) for Tech, has a lot to do with its QB. Mahomes has thrown for 2,264 passing yards and completed 167 of 257 passes and 19 touchdowns through six games..

• What’s more, the QB has rushed for 205 yards on 34 attempts — with a team-leading six touchdowns.

• In torching Iowa State, he completed 33 of 46 passes for 428 yards and five touchdowns. Mahomes threw for 371 yards on 24 completions before halftime.

• Beaty compared him to Texas A&M Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.

• Though Tech was known for its huge passing numbers in the first 10 years of this century, Mahomes compares favorably through the first 10 starts of his career with the most prominent Red Raiders from that era — both his coach, Kingsbury (2,858 yards, 19 TDs, 13 INTs), and Graham Harrell (3,507 yards, 32 TDs, 9 INTs).

• Mahomes is the only Red Raider QB since 2000 to throw for four or more touchdowns in six of his first 10 starts.

No. 21: RB DeAndre Washington | 5-8, 198, sr.

In this Nov. 29, 2014, file photo, Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington carries the ball against Baylor in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Arlington, Texas. Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU all have a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver. The rest of the power-five conferences have only one such team, plus Notre Dame. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp, File)

In this Nov. 29, 2014, file photo, Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington carries the ball against Baylor in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Arlington, Texas. Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU all have a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver. The rest of the power-five conferences have only one such team, plus Notre Dame. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp, File)

• Tech’s primary rusher, senior back DeAndre Washington is well on hhis way to a 1,000-yard season, with 586 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

• As one might expect out of a Red Raiders RB, Washington also gets involved in the passing game. His 18 catches rank second on the team behind Grant, but Washington’s receptions don’t tend to be especially explosive. He’s averaging 8.8 yards a catch, which is ninth among Tech players with at least 10 grabs. He also has 1 TD catch this season.

• Washington’s 7.1 yards per carry rank 11th in the nation.

• The team captain already has two 100-yard rushing games this season: 188 versus TCU and 138 against UTEP.

• Rushed for 4 touchdowns against TCU, a career high.

• Picked up the longest reception of his career on a 49-yard TD — via a screen pass from Mahomes — last week vs. Iowa State.

No. 40: LB Dakota Allen | 6-2, 234, fresh.

None by Texas Tech on Scout

• Tech’s leading tackler on defense, red-shirt freshman linebacker Dakota Allen has a team-best 34 solo tackles to go with the 24 on which he has assisted.

• Coming a bit out of nowhere this season, the first-year defender leads the Big 12 with 9.7 tackles a game, which ranks 20th in the nation.

• Against Baylor, in his second career start, Allen went for a career-high 13 tackles.

• Allen had 3.0 tackles for loss, a pass break-up and a QB hurry this season, too.

No. 3: S J.J. Gaines | 6-0, 179, sr.

None by Big 12 Conference

• With a pair of interceptions last week against Iowa State, safety J.J. Gaines now has 4 takeaways in the air this season.

• When Gaines picked off a pass earlier this year against Sam Houston State, he took it 47 yards the other way for a touchdown.

• The defensive back has 34 tackles this season. Four came in a loss to Baylor, during which he also picked off Bears QB Seth Russell.

• Gaines also has a pass breakup and a fumble recovery this fall.

• Now with 8 interceptions in his career, Gaines needs 1 more to enter Texas Tech’s all-time top 10.

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Getting to know the TD-happy No. 3 Bears

Baylor quarterback Seth Russell (17) warms up as coach Art Briles watches before an NCAA college football game against Lamar, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Baylor quarterback Seth Russell (17) warms up as coach Art Briles watches before an NCAA college football game against Lamar, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

There’s no getting around it. No. 3 Baylor (4-0 overall, 1-0 Big 12) — one of the most impressive offensive teams in the nation — is going to score a lot of points on Saturday at Kansas (0-4, 0-1). The touchdowns are going to come quickly and often.

The back-to-back Big 12 champions make a habit of carving defenses into oblivion. As one BU hashtag likes to tout, #AmericasTopOffense leads the NCAA in yardage (745.3 per game) and points (63.8). That’s right. The Bears average roughly nine touchdowns a game.

The winless, rebuilding Jayhawks — who, by the way, average 391.2 yards and 22.0 points — have scored 11 touchdowns this season: Ke’aun Kinner (5 rushing), Tre’ Parmalee (1 rushing, 1 receiving), Ryan Schadler (kickoff), Marcquis Roberts (interception), Montell Cozart (rushing) and Kent Taylor (receiving).

For the love of all things football, Baylor nearly averages a first down per play on offense (9.4 yards a snap). The Bears, coached by Art Briles, own an average margin of victory of 37.8 points this season.

KU scored 38 points in its season-opening loss to South Dakota State, and has since finished losses with 23 points, 14 points and 13 points.

No FBS school scores like the Bears do. They lead the nation in TD drives of 2 minutes or less. They’ve struck quickly for scores 23 times. In four games.

Usually, in this Getting to know (KU opponent) feature, we give you five opposing players to watch out for. This week, given Baylor’s scoring prowess, we’ll go with five salivating at the chance to score touchdowns.

FIVE BEARS SALIVATING ABOUT SCORING

No. 17: QB Seth Russell | 6-3, 220, jr.

• The guy who keeps Baylor’s offense screaming along flawlessly is quarterback Seth Russell — a former KU commitment, believe it or not.

• All the junior QB has done this season is lead the nation in passing efficiency (218.7), passing TDs (19), passing yards per completion (19.71) and passing yards per attempt (12.44).

• In just four outings, Russell has thrown for 10 TDs of 40-plus yards — including six for 50-plus, three for 60-plus and one for 80-plus.

• The QB is mobile, too. He has a 40-yard dash time of 4.49 seconds and his vertical has been measured at 41.8 inches.

No. 1: WR Corey Coleman | 5-11, 190, jr.

Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman leaps into the end zone for a score in front of Texas Tech defensive back Keenon Ward (15) and linebacker D'Vonta Hinton (34) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. Baylor won 63-35. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman leaps into the end zone for a score in front of Texas Tech defensive back Keenon Ward (15) and linebacker D'Vonta Hinton (34) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. Baylor won 63-35. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

• Robin to Russell’s Batman — or is it the other way around? — wide receiver Corey Coleman often has looked unstoppable, going over 100 yards in receiving in every game of 2015.

• On just 24 catches, Coleman has racked up 570 yards and a nation-leading 11 touchdowns.

• What is he a basketball player? He averages 16.5 points per game.

• Coleman can instantly flip the field (on the rare occasions he’s not scoring). He leads FBS with 12 catches of 20 or more yards. Three of those were of the 50-plus variety.

No. 32: RB Shock Linwood | 5-9, 200, jr.

Baylor running back Shock Linwood leaps over the pile toward the end zone for a touchdown during the first quarter at McLane Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 in Waco, Texas.

Baylor running back Shock Linwood leaps over the pile toward the end zone for a touchdown during the first quarter at McLane Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

• Hey, just so we don’t forget: The Bears can run the ball, too. Shock Linwood has scored six rushing TDs so far.

• The back with the great name ranks fifth in the nation, with 146.0 yards per game. With Linwood leading the charge, BU has already put up four games of 300-plus rushing yards.

• Just assume the chains are going to move when Linwood gets a handoff. He’s averaging 9.4 yards per carry.

• Currently fourth on Baylor’s list of all-time rushing TDs, with 30, Linwood only needs five more to tie Alfred Anderson (1980-83) for No. 1. Could he catch up with him against KU?

• The returning All-Big 12 first-team RB is coming off a 221-yard, two-TD performance vs. Texas Tech.

No. 4: CB Xavien Howard | 6-2, 200, jr.

• Hey, we can’t count out a defensive touchdown for Baylor. Corner Xavien Howard had four interceptions and 13 pass breakups last season, and has already broken up four passes in 2015, with two interceptions.

• KU is going to be throwing the ball, and it will have true freshman Ryan Willis doing it. If he throws in the direction of Howard, BU’s physical corner has the skills to turn it into six points.

• Just last week against Texas Tech, Howard returned an INT 46 yards.

No. 2: DE Shawn Oakman | 6-9, 275, sr.

Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman participates in warm up drills before an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman participates in warm up drills before an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

• As long as we’re talking defenders, we shouldn’t overlook right end Shawn Oakman. The guy is a monster: 6-foot-9, 275 pounds. If you were going to pick a defensive lineman likely to scoop up a loose ball and do something spectacular with it vs. Kansas, you’d have to go with Oakman. I mean, his jersey barely can contain his massive frame.

• The senior has 37.5 tackles for loss in his BU career, and currently is tied with Daryl Gardener and Chris McAllister for the program’s all-time lead in sacks (15.0).

• The two-time All-Big 12 defensive end is as disruptive a pass rusher as exists in FBS. If he comes from Willis’ weak side and strips the young QB, you know the No. 1 thing on his mind would be taking the ball to the end zone. Oakman recovered three fumbles in 2014, and has six forced fumbles in 16 career starts.

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Getting to know Iowa State football

Kansas tight end Ben Johnson turns to meet Iowa State defensive back Kamari Cotton-Moya after a catch in the second quarter.

Kansas tight end Ben Johnson turns to meet Iowa State defensive back Kamari Cotton-Moya after a catch in the second quarter. by Nick Krug

Saturday marks the first Big 12 game of 2015 for both Kansas and Iowa State, and the Jayhawks and Cyclones have some losing streaks they’d like to get rid of at Jack Trice Stadium (11 a.m. kickoff).

Winless through three games this season, KU at least snapped a four-game skid versus Iowa State by winning 34-14 in Lawrence in 2014. But there is that not-so-insignificant matter of the Jayhawks’ 34-game losing streak away from Memorial Stadium. ISU accounted for three of those, and Kansas hasn’t won in Ames, Iowa, since escaping 35-33 in 2008.

Back then, of course, Mark Mangino was coaching the Jayhawks. Now ISU’s offensive coordinator, Mangino wouldn’t mind adding to KU’s road troubles — with no offense to his former assistant David Beaty.

Kansas head coach Mark Mangino has words for an official during the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

Kansas head coach Mark Mangino has words for an official during the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. by Nick Krug

ISU hasn’t won a Big 12 opener since bludgeoning Kansas, 45-3, in 2002. But the streak the Cyclones would really like to snap is a stretch of nine consecutive Big 12 losses.

Iowa State’s defense — unlike KU’s this season — has shown it can get into the backfield and make plays. The Cyclones (1-2) already have 24.0 tackles for loss — three times as many as KU — ranking third in the Big 12 and 17th nationally.

The Cyclones, who beat Northern Iowa in the opener and have since lost to Iowa and Toledo, have enough play-makers on offense to keep KU’s road losing streak alive and well. Here are five ISU players Kansas should be worried about.

FIVE CYCLONES TO WATCH

No. 12: QB Sam Richardson | 6-2, 217, sr.

Iowa State quarterback Sam B. Richardson takes a snap during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa State quarterback Sam B. Richardson takes a snap during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

• Believe it or not this will actually mark senior quarterback Sam Richardson’s first career start against Kansas. Injuries kept him out of the KU-ISU game each of the past two seasons. In 2012, though, he came off the bench as a freshman against Kansas and lit up the Jayhawks — 23-for-27 passing, with 250 yards and four touchdowns.

• This season, Richardson is averaging 249.7 yards passing per game and completing 61.3 percent of his throws (65-for-106).

• In each of his first two games this season (vs. Northern Iowa and Iowa), Richardson threw two TD passes, giving him 15 multi-TD games in his career.

• He ranks 28th nationally in completions per game (21.7).

• ISU’s QB only threw one TD pass vs. Toledo. He now has 42 in his career, tying for the second-best total in school history (Bret Meyer, 50, 2004-07).

• Richardson is one of five active FBS QBs with more than 5,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards.

No. 5: WR Allen Lazard | 6-5, 223, soph.

Iowa State wide receiver Allen Lazard looks to push Northern Iowa defensive back Jordan Webb away on a punt return during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

Iowa State wide receiver Allen Lazard looks to push Northern Iowa defensive back Jordan Webb away on a punt return during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

• Richardson’s favorite target, sophomore receiver Allen Lazard leads ISU in receptions (15) and receiving yards (150).

• He has caught at least one pass in all 15 games of his young career.

• As a freshman in 2014, Lazard had five catches for 70 yards at KU.

• Lazard delivered one of the best rookie seasons from a WR in ISU history last year, with 45 catches for 593 yards and three TDs.

• Also a threat on special teams, Lazard averaged 25.0 yards a punt return against UNI.

• The tall receiver already has two eight-catch games on his résumé. Not surprising when you consider how highly he was thought of coming out of high school.

No. 45: DE Dale Pierson | 6-2, 249, sr.

Iowa State defensive end Dale Pierson celebrates after sacking Northern Iowa quarterback Justin Black during the second half Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State defensive end Dale Pierson celebrates after sacking Northern Iowa quarterback Justin Black during the second half Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Ames, Iowa.

• Senior DE Dale Pierson ranks second nationally in sacks per game (1.7), trailing only Penn State’s Carl Nassib (1.75).

• Pierson also ranks No. 5 in the nation with 2.0 tackles for loss per game. That mark leads the Big 12.

• With nine games left to play, he is 3.5 sacks shy of ISU’s single-season record: 8.5, by Shawn Moorehead in 2006. No wonder his Twitter handle is @SACKMAMBA45.

• In ISU’s win over UNI, Pierson went for 3.0 sacks and recorded his first career interception.

• Pierson, a former Pasadena CC standout, really began to take off late last season. In his last six games for ISU, he has 37 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception.

No. 2: RB Mike Warren | 6-0, 200, RS-fr.

None by Cyclone Insider

• After seeing few opportunities in ISU’s first two games, red-shirt freshman running back Mike Warren broke out against Toledo. His 126 rushing yards included a career-long 41-yard carry.

• Warren now leads ISU with 154 rushing yards on the season.

• The young RB is averaging 5.1 yards a carry.

• It seems Warren could become the first ISU freshman to lead the team in rushing yards since Alexander Robinson did it in 2007.

No. 12: LB Jarnor “Jay” Jones | 6-3, 209, jr.

None by Cyclone Football

• Linebacker Jarnor “Jay” Jones’ 20 tackles rank third on ISU, and he has made plays in the backfield, with four 4.0 for loss.

• A former member of North Carolina State’s football program who transferred to Georgia Military College after running into some trouble, the transfer now seems to have things figured out.

• Jones had a sack and two tackles for loss in each of his first tow games for ISU, against Northern Iowa and Iowa.

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Getting to know Rutgers

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood shouts to his players from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Saturday Sept. 12, 2015, in Piscataway, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood shouts to his players from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Saturday Sept. 12, 2015, in Piscataway, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

You won’t see Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood on the field Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium, in Piscataway, New Jersey. As you’ve probably learned by now, the Scarlet Knights’ head coach is in the midst of serving a three-game suspension for rules violations and a string of off-the-field issues involving Rutgers players.

An investigation found that Flood emailed and met in person with a RU faculty member even though he knew — or should have known — of the university’s policies prohibiting coach-initiated contact with faculty members regarding students’ academic standing.

What’s more, Rutgers captain and standout wide receiver Leonte Carroo was suspended after facing assault charges in a domestic violence issue. On Sept. 16, Carroo pleaded not guilty to the charge in which authorities say he slammed a woman onto concrete after a football game.

As the AP reported, the Carroo incident “is the latest stain on a program that has seen six other players kicked off the team this month after being arrested on charges that include armed robbery and home-invasion burglary and rioting. One of the former players was also charged in two home-invasion robberies.”

All that disarray has led many who follow Kansas football to circle this week’s game at Rutgers (11 a.m. kickoff on Big Ten Network) as one of the few winnable dates on the schedule.

But before deciding if that’s the case, we should probably get to know the important remaining members of the Scarlet Knights, because those players will be the ones trying to extend KU’s 33-game losing streak away from Memorial Stadium.

Rutgers interim head coach Norries Wilson, center, talks with Rutgers running back Paul James (34) on the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Penn State in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Rutgers interim head coach Norries Wilson, center, talks with Rutgers running back Paul James (34) on the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Penn State in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Leading Rutgers in place of the suspended Flood is interim coach Norries Wilson. RU’s assistant head coach and running backs coach opened this unenviable stretch with a 28-3 loss at Penn State this past weekend. The Scarlet Knights never reached the end zone, in part because of meager field position: on average, RU started its first-half drives at its own 16-yard line; that average barely improved in the second half, to its own 20.

But if Kansas blows any special teams coverage, Rutgers (1-2) has just the weapon to flip the field. Here are some play-makers the Jayhawks (0-2) will have to keep in check in order to have a shot at a rare road victory.

FIVE SCARLET KNIGHTS TO WATCH

No. 1: RET/WR Janarion Grant | 5-11, 170, jr.

  • Washington State had no answers for Janarion Grant on Sept. 12, when the return specialist set a new Rutgers record with 337 all-purpose yards, including a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown (above) and a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD (below). The day made him an easy choice for Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week.

  • Grant, who also took a kickoff return to the house in RU’s season opener versus Norfolk State, has returned a kick 70 yards or more five times in his career.

  • So far this season, Grant has 93 receiving yards (10 catches) and 21 rushing yards (one carry). Given KU’s defensive issues, the Jayhawks better be aware of him every time he appears in an offensive formation.

  • Grant had 105 receiving yards on eight receptions late last season against Maryland, and with his speed, he is a threat to burn KU’s secondary on any given snap.

No. 3: WLB Steve Longa | 6-1, 225, jr.

Rutgers linebacker Steve Longa (3) is seen during the second half of the Quick Lane Bowl NCAA college football game against North Carolina, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014, in Detroit. Rutgers defeated North Carolina 40-21. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Rutgers linebacker Steve Longa (3) is seen during the second half of the Quick Lane Bowl NCAA college football game against North Carolina, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014, in Detroit. Rutgers defeated North Carolina 40-21. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • If Rutgers is playing, odds are linebacker Steve Longa is leading the team in tackles. In 29 career games with the Scarlet Knights, Longa has finished 20 of them with the most tackles.

  • Longa’s 251 career tackles give him the team lead among active players — by 107.

  • Averaging 8.7 tackles a game this season, Longa had made 15 tackles on passing plays.

  • On nine occasions at Rutgers, the linebacker has racked up 10 tackles or more. He had 14 vs. Washington State.

  • In his career, Longa has broken up seven passes, sacked a QB five times, recorded 12.5 tackles for loss, forced three fumbles and recovered two fumbles

  • On the Lombardi Award watch list.

No. 5: QB Chris Laviano | 6-3, 210, soph.

Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano, left, runs away from Nebraska cornerback Josh Mitchell (5) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. Nebraska won 42-24. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano, left, runs away from Nebraska cornerback Josh Mitchell (5) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. Nebraska won 42-24. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

  • The Big Ten’s current leader in completion percentage, Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano has succeeded on 72% of his throws through three games, and has a passing efficiency mark of 148.0, which is fourth-best in his conference.

  • First-and-10 has been his favorite down-and-distance. Laviano is 25-for-32 on first-down pass plays, with 12 first downs and two touchdowns.

  • RU failed to score a touchdown in the sophomore’s first career road start, at Penn State, but he set new career highs with 27 completions, 42 attempts and 251 yards.

  • Laviano doesn’t appear to have a favorite target. He completed passes to 10 different teammates against both Washington State and Penn State…

  • … And there is an obvious reason for spreading the ball around. Three of his four touchdown passes in 2015 came to now suspended receiver Carroo in the season opener.

  • Laviano isn’t a huge running threat and can be sacked — good news for KU defensive ends Ben Goodman and Damani Mosby. His net average on rushing attempts (which include sacks in college) is -11.7 yards per game. PSU sacked the RU QB five times.

No. 31: FS Anthony Cioffi | 6-0, 200, jr.

  • KU quarterback Montell Cozart might not want to test Anthony Cioffi. The free safety already has two interceptions this season and four in his career.

  • Cioffi broke up a career-best three passes on Sept. 12 vs. WSU.

  • The free safety hasn’t had to do too much cleaning up on defense, with 11 solo tackles through three games.

  • In his 27-game career, Cioffi has nine pass breakups, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

  • In 2013, Cioffi blocked a punt for a touchdown against Central Florida.

No. 8: RB Josh Hicks | 5-10, 215, soph.

  • Sophomore running back Josh Hicks leads Rutgers with 16 first downs gained, and is a perfect 5-for-5 in third-down rushes in that category (average of 5.6 yards on third-down carries).

  • Hicks ran for 118 yards vs. Norfolk State, marking his third 100-yard game, and scored two touchdowns (his only two this season to date).

  • Through three games, Hicks is picking up yardage in chunks, averaging 6.3 yards per rush. His 41 carries and 258 rushing yards lead Rutgers, which also uses RBs Paul James (31-112) and Robert Martin (24-150) a great deal.

  • Finished off his 2014 season with 202-yard performance and MVP honors at the inaugural Quick Lane Bowl, where RU handled North Carolina, 40-21.

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Getting to know Memphis football

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) looks for an open teammate as he is rushed by Brigham Young linebacker Sione Takitaki (53) and linebacker Teu Kautai (25) during the second half of the in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl football game, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 in Miami. Memphis defeated Brigham Young 55-48 in double overtime. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) looks for an open teammate as he is rushed by Brigham Young linebacker Sione Takitaki (53) and linebacker Teu Kautai (25) during the second half of the in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl football game, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 in Miami. Memphis defeated Brigham Young 55-48 in double overtime. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

With the help of a big, mobile quarterback who can command a versatile offense, Memphis football coach Justin Fuente is leading the kind of turnaround David Beaty hopes to pull off at Kansas.

Fuente took over a downtrodden Tigers program in 2012. After a 3-9 mark in 2013, Memphis went 10-3 last season, won the American Athletic Conference title for the program’s first league crown in more than 40 years and beat BYU in double overtime at the Miami Beach Bowl.

Entering Saturday night’s game at KU’s Memorial Stadium, Memphis has won its last eight games, dating back to the 2014 season — the fourth-longest win streak in FBS Football. Heading into this week, only Ohio State (14), Boise State (10) and TCU (nine) have longer win streaks. You might have heard of those programs.

Fuente’s teams are known for having creative offenses that can fool and burn defenses in a number of ways. The bad news for the Jayhawks: Memphis didn’t have to show much of anything in its season-opening, 63-7 dismantling of Missouri State.

The Tigers utilized six running backs who helped account for 317 rushing yards. Memphis’ 63 points against Missouri State ranked seventh in the nation, while the Tigers’ defense also put up some stellar numbers, nationally: rushing defense (18 yards, sixth), total defense (125 yards, fifth), turnover margin (+3, fifth)

Although Memphis put up 519 yards of total offense (35th) in its opener, KU actually fared better, with 576 yards (19th).

While Memphis and Kansas are in very different places as programs right now, Memphis has lost 19 straight games to schools which currently reside in the so-called Power 5 or BCS conferences. The Tigers’ last victory over a program from a major league came in the 2004 season opener against Ole Miss.

Fifteen of the Tigers’ 19 such losses in the past 11 seasons came against either ACC, SEC or Pac-12 opponents — six to Ole Miss and four to Tennessee. Four more came against current ACC program Louisville.

Interesting note: Memphis assistant head coach Darrell Dickey played QB for Kansas State from 1979-82

FIVE TIGERS TO WATCH

No. 12: QB Paxton Lynch | 6-7, 245, jr.

  • Pulled from the opener late in the first half, Memphis star quarterback Paxton Lynch completed eight of his 12 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown vs. Missouri State.

  • In his career, Lynch has started 26 consecutive games, completed 60.7% of his 774 throws, racked up 5,165 yards and 32 touchdowns through the air and rushed for 15 more scores.

  • At the Miami Beach Bowl, Lynch played a part in seven total touchdowns (four passing, three rushing) — tying an NCAA bowl game record — and was named MVP.

  • On watch lists for Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien National QB Award.

No. 11: RB Sam Craft | 6-0, 210, jr.

Memphis running back Sam Craft (11) runs against Cincinnati in the seconc half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Memphis running back Sam Craft (11) runs against Cincinnati in the seconc half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

  • Though Jarvis Cooper led Memphis with 102 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns last week, he was one of many backups to see extensive playing time. No. 1 RB Craft still went for 72 yards on 12 carries.

  • Last week’s 12-touch game figures to be an anomaly this season for the junior, and Craft as recently as last season against Cincinnati tallied 38 carries in one game. He rushed for a career-high 170 yards against Cincy.

  • The speedy junior also serves as a kickoff returner for Memphis.

No. 39: FS Reggis Ball | 5-11, 210, sr.

  • The Tigers’ leading returning tackler has 95 in his career — 68 unassisted — in 38 games.

  • Ball is capable of doing a bit of everything on defense and will be counted on to do so as a senior defensive back. He has 3.0 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and two blocked kicks during his time at Memphis.

  • Returned an interception 93 yards in 2013 vs. SMU.

No. 40: TE Alan Cross | 6-1, 235, sr.

None by Tom Schad

  • Don’t let the 0 receptions vs. Missouri State fool you. Cross earned first-team all-AAC honors in 2014 for a reason.

  • The tight end caught three passes for 69 yards and a TD in the Tigers’ bowl win over BYU to close 2014.

  • On the John Mackey Award watch list for the nation’s top tight end.

No. 46 : PK Jake Elliott | 5-10, 165, jr.

  • Not many college programs are fortunate enough to have a real weapon in their place kicker, but Memphis does in Jake Elliott.

  • In 2014, Elliott made 21 of 32 field goals. Of the 11 he missed, eight came from more than 45 yards out.

  • The kicker set a new school record by hitting 57 extra points, going perfect in the process.

  • Eight of Elliott’s 10 kickoffs went for touchbacks in the season opener.

  • Named the American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year in 2014.

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