Teams head into conference opener with identical records

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There are a lot of similarities between Kansas State and Nebraska heading into today’s matchup.

Both teams are coming off a bye week, giving them extra time to prepare for each other’s similar offensive philosophies. Both teams boast a top-25 rushing attack, with Nebraska’s being among the top five. The Wildcats and Cornhuskers make up two-fifths of the unbeaten teams in the Big 12.

But after tonight, one of these teams will leave Bill Snyder Stadium in Missouri with a loss and the other will have a clearer route to the Big 12 North title.

The biggest difference between the teams is defense. Kansas State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) gives up significantly more yards and points per game than Nebraska (4-0, 0-0). Because of this, the Wildcats have been forced to play catch-up in many of their games this year.

Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder sees a silver lining in all the close calls. He said his team’s maturity has shown and he believes tonight’s matchup will be about perseverance.

“They’ve been perhaps admonished over a few years of not having the capacity to [finish games],” Snyder said. “It’s beginning to show some maturity and beginning to show their understanding of the perception that you have to finish well to succeed. It’s a combination of things probably.”

Cyclones prepare for Utah
Cyclone fans were treated to one of the year’s wildest games last week against Texas Tech.

Iowa State (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) pulled off a huge 52-38 victory against a solid Big 12 South opponent in a game that featured nine total passing touchdowns and an onside kick returned 42 yards for another six points.

The Cyclones, who have one of the conference’s toughest schedules, now turn their sights to No. 10 Utah. However, they are no stranger to playing as the underdog.

Last season head coach Paul Rhoads led Iowa State to a huge victory over Nebraska and he is prepared to take on the Utes, but most importantly Rhoads is enjoying each win.

“It felt as good as the UNI win and the NIU win,” Rhoads said about the Tech win. “They’re all extremely important. You work so hard all year long recruiting, coaching, scheming, training, motivating and to get a victory at this level is very important. We were thrilled with it, enjoyed it, celebrated it and we’re moving on to our Utah preparation.”

Secondary leads Tigers
The Big 12 North just added its newest member to the AP Top 25 rankings.

Missouri did not even play a game last weekend but still showed up as No. 24 in the national standings that were released Sunday.

What is more perplexing is that Missouri has yet to even play a conference game. However, the Tigers have, for the most part, easily beaten a slew of weaker, nonconference opponents in the past four weeks and that may be the reason they jumped into the national spotlight. How does Missouri explain this leap in confidence? Experience in the secondary.

“A lot of credit to what we’ve done this year is we have experience,” said defensive back Kevin Rutland, a team captain. “That’s probably the biggest change we’ve had. Experience is golden.”

The 4-0 Tigers will defend their new ranking and unbeaten record against a 3-1 Colorado team that will also be playing its first Big 12 game. The Buffaloes are preparing to defend against who they consider to be one of the nation’s best quarterbacks.

“He’s a big, strong guy that can run,” head coach Dan Hawkins said of Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. “He’s got a very good arm. He does a nice job. He’s a very good player.”