2011: 2-0 (0-2)
Returning starters: 12 (five offense, seven defense)
Last week's game: Kansas State 37 Kent State 0 Kansas State is not known for challenging themselves in non-conference play, and true to form they steamrolled a hapless Kent State team in Manhattan last weekend. Wildcats QB Collin Klein ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns, and though he was pretty much the team's only offense, he was the only offense they needed, as the Golden Flashes fell just short of 200 total yards for the game.
Offense: Based on KSU's schedule so far this season (along with their victory over Kent State, they've also beaten Eastern Kentucky, albeit by only three points, for some ungodly reason) it's hard to judge the quality of either their offense or their defense. This much we know, though: with the departure of current Miami Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas, the offense's weight is being pulled almost entirely by the aforementioned Klein. He's accounted for 419 of the offense's 638 total yards this season, which by my back-of-the-Post-It math (nb: I'm horrible at math) is a solid 65%. The style of offense features various option looks, though the passing game that can come off of that has yet to develop.
Oh, and for those wondering about Bryce Brown: three rushes, 16 yards on the year, and reportedly in the doghouse. Maybe Snyder will throw him some looks based on his sordid history with UM, but he's been a non-factor this year.Defense: The Wildcats are currently number one in the country in scoring defense and total defense. But again, they've faced Kent State and Eastern Kentucky, so it's hard to tell how good they actually are. The defense is led by our old friend Arthur Brown, who unlike his brother is actually a star at KSU— he has 19 tackles in two games this year, including 2.5 for loss. Their defensive line is highlighted by tackle Ray Kibble, of whom Al Golden said, "As I told our team yesterday, we think [he] is better than the two we saw last week." Now, Miami ran all over the Buckeyes, so maybe that isn't really saying much, but Kibble is the guy to watch here.
Match up in Miami's favor: If we've learned anything from watching the Canes this season, it's that Kansas State is going to need to pass the ball to win this game. Ohio State could not throw the ball at all last week, and eventually Miami was able to completely smother a running attack that had been effective. It's hard to imagine that any FBS team could be worse at throwing than Ohio State was last week, but it's still not a strength for Kansas State. Klein has more rush yards than pass yards this season, and his completions have gone for only about nine yards on average. Miami's defensive backs remain the weak spot of this defense, and opposing teams need to be able to burn them early and often.
Match up in Kansas State's favor: It's truly hard to find any spot in this game where KSU has a distinct advantage over Miami, but if there's anywhere Miami should be concerned it's along the line when Kansas State has the ball. The Canes have had a rough time getting to the passer this year— they had no sacks versus Maryland, and their two sacks against Ohio State were a combination of good coverage and horrifying quarterback play— and the Wildcats sport a starting offensive line made up solely of upperclassmen. If Klein can have time to throw, Wildcats receivers will eventually get open, and that's to say nothing of any potential holes they could open in the run game.