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How Oklahoma State's attack could slow down Kansas State

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USC receivers vs. Washington's secondary is worth watching (0:20)

A matchup to highlight for USC's game against Washington will be the Trojans' receiving corps vs. the Huskies' secondary. (0:20)

Oklahoma State is home to two of college football's most productive weapons.

The Cowboys' talented offense is powered in large part by the nation's leading rusher, Chuba Hubbard, and 2018 Biletnikoff Award finalist Tylan Wallace. Hubbard has a 93 in the PlayStation Player Impact Ratings, and Wallace scores an 80 rating.

If No. 24 Kansas State, which is off to an impressive 3-0 start under new coach Chris Klieman, intends to go into Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+) and start off Big 12 play with a victory, the Wildcats will have to focus much of their energy on those two dynamos.

Along with redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders, who has a 64 rating and looks like a future star himself, Oklahoma State (3-1) gives opposing defenses plenty to deal with.

"They can beat you in all phases," Klieman said. "They're going to beat you just running the football with a dynamic running back and an exceptional offensive line. They're going to throw the football. I know Wallace is a tremendous, tremendous player, and they have other pieces around him that are really exceptional as well. Then you throw in the quarterback that is so explosive and can hit a home run on every play.

"So, in all three phases of offensive football with the ability for the quarterback to run and throw, wide receivers who can beat you and a running back, it's a formidable offense."

The Wildcats had the good fortune of an off week heading into this one, giving Klieman and his staff extra time to prepare. The Cowboys, meanwhile, suffered their first loss of the season at Texas last week. The Longhorns let Wallace get loose early, but as the game wore on, his impact dwindled as they blanketed him with double-teams.

Whether that's how K-State attacks Wallace remains to be seen, but cornerback A.J Parker (75 rating) and safety Denzel Goolsby (40) figure to be key factors in the Wildcats' effort to slow down Wallace, who is fourth nationally in receiving yards (473) and second in touchdowns (six). Parker is someone who Klieman says "wants to be put on the spot," so he'll relish the chance to line up against a talent such as Wallace. Goolsby has provided leadership, solid play and sure tackling on the back line.

While Texas paid close attention to Wallace, Oklahoma State pounded away on the ground with Hubbard, who leads the country in carries (103), rushing yards (642) and rushing touchdowns (nine). His 37-carry total last week was high (coach Mike Gundy said he'd like to reduce Hubbard's workload), but the Cowboys will do what's necessary to win, even if it means feeding Hubbard continuously.

"It has been a conversation and we want to keep him healthy," Gundy said Tuesday. "We want him to be fresh, but he is clearly the best runner. We do what we think we need to do to score us the most points."

K-State has seen a quality back already this season: Mississippi State's Kylin Hill carried it 24 times for 111 yards in the Wildcats' road win in Starkville. Klieman said he wanted to see improved tackling from his team after that win; Hubbard will test just how much K-State has improved in that department.

How the Wildcats play at the line of scrimmage will be key as well. Oklahoma State couldn't convert a key fourth-and-short against Texas as the Longhorns' interior defensive line won a key battle up front. If Kansas State is to have a shot at slowing down Hubbard, its experienced defensive line -- with three seniors (Reggie Walker, Jordan Mittie and Trey Dishon) and a sophomore (Wyatt Hubert) -- must continue to play well.