We got some more Top 25 action this week when #5 Auburn strolls into Manhattan, Kansas to take on Bill Snyder’s Wildcats from Kansas State. Both teams enter the game 2-0 and are coming off bye weeks for this and are looking to keep up their winning ways. Auburn has opened the year up with two convincing wins over Arkansas and San Jose State while Kansas State struggling to take down Iowa State after a blowout victory over SFA.
If you read my Final Four predictions last week you know I had Auburn making the cut before heading into the bye week. I think when all the dust settles they will be SEC team that makes it into the playoff based off what I’ve seen from them so far. When you have one of the most explosive offenses in the land and a battle tested quarterback in Nick Marshall on your team you will have a shot in every game you play. The Tigers will be getting their star receiver Sammie Coates back this week after he sat out the San Jose State game nursing a knee injury and he is past due for a big day after a slow start to the season. Between Coates and Duke Williams I think the Tigers will give the Wildcats fits through the air and will get Cameron Artis-Payne involved early on the ground to wear down KSU’s front seven. Auburn will need to limit turnovers and mistakes, big key is making the home crowd a non factor early. If you can can come out and hit KSU in the mouth early the crowd will quiet it down make it easier to operate. The last thing you want is to get off to a slow start and allow the magic of Manhattan take its effect on you.
For Kansas State the key will be to getting some three and outs early and building some confidence on defense. Auburn is going to score points, that is a given, but if you are able to get some stops and string some drives together offensively you can keep that offense off the field and control the time of possession. The ground and pound is going to be essential so the Wildcats will need big days from Jake Waters Charles Jones so they can take the air out of the ball. If I’m Jake Waters I’m going to be smart with the football, feed Tyler Lockett and just take what the defense gives me. The last thing you can afford to do is turn the ball over and give Auburn’s offense short fields and extra opportunities at the end zone. Defensively, you have to make them earn every point they put on the board. Meaning don’t give up explosive plays or quick sixes. Kansas State needs to force Auburn to play it’s style of football and take them out of their comfort zone. If KSU can accomplish that, they will give themselves a chance to pull off the upset tonight.
At the end of the day I think Auburn goes into Manhattan and comes out with the W. I think Auburn has too much fire power for the Wildcats to handle. I’m not encouraged by KSU’s most recent performance against Iowa State and Auburn is a much better opponent than the Cyclones. I think due to the home field advantage KSU will keep it close early, but Auburn pulls away as the game wear on. I have a funny feeling we will be handing out a game ball to Nick Marshall.
Prediction: 31-14 Auburn