The biggest of the non-conference games in week 4 and one of only two between ranked teams, Auburn (number 5) visiting Kansas State (number 20) will be a clash of undefeated programs who’ll also be once again testing just how good the SEC really is, but also setting themselves up for recognition when it’s time for the playoff selection.
Kansas State didn’t really impress in their win over Iowa State when they last played, beating the Cyclones on the road 32-28. They allowed 28 straight points at one point to an offense that a week earlier struggled against an FCS team, but eventually won thanks to a 80-yard drive led by Jake Waters and capped off in just 91 seconds.
Waters is the special figure in this team, bouncing back from a down year. The Wildcats haven’t done well against ranked opponents from outside the big 12, losing in their last six games to such rivals, four of them in bowl games. But rankings and conferences won’t be the deciding factor in this clash. Of all things, it’ll probably come down to the ability of Kansas State to somehow disrupt a running game that has so far averaged 330 yards in the wins over Arkansas and San Jose State.
Kansas State have no problem running themselves, relying mostly on Waters to pick up the yards. The dual threat quarterback has so far gained 193 yards on the ground this season, scoring four touchdowns, just like running back Charles Jones with 130 yards, 21 carries and four touchdowns. They are averaging 236 yards per game but unlike Auburn don’t find it so difficult to throw the ball.
Nick Marshall didn’t look very good in the win over San Jose State, and he is another quarterback that usually looked better when he’s making plays with his legs and not his feet. Still, Auburn are more than just a one tick pony. In Sammy Coates they have a big time wide receiver who averaged 21.5 yards per reception last season, third in the nation and he had time to rest, nursing an injury that kept him out of the previous game.
As Bill Snyder put it, the Tigers are solid all over and a lot more than just a direct-playing football team. With a brutal schedule on the cards for them and now playing on the road for the first time this season, this is one big test for Auburn to see how their national title credentials hold up against a Kansas State team that looks inferior on paper, but have a similar approach to the game and are built to cause major upsets.