Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-1, 2-1) at Iowa State Cyclones (1-5, 0-3)
Iowa State Rush Offense vs. Oklahoma State Rush Defense
A Big 12-worst 23 sacks allowed helps push the Cyclones into a tie for the lowest average yards per carry in the league (3.4). The good news for ISU is Aaron Wimberly’s running for 4.7 yards per attempt and if he’s fully healthy and the game remains close, a breakout run or two could occur. The bad news? The Cowboys allow just 3.2 yards per carry, which ranks third in the conference. Advantage: Oklahoma State.
Iowa State Pass Offense vs. Oklahoma State Pass Defense
ISU QB Sam Richardson retains his hold on the starting spot and is reputed to be in relatively good health for a change. Receiver Quenton Bundrage needs to return to the form he showed in a pair of 100-yard games earlier this season. The Cowboys rank sixth in the Big 12 with 13 sacks and end Tyler Johnson has four of them. Cornerback Justin Gilbert has three interceptions. Advantage: Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State Rush Offense vs. Iowa State Rush Defense
Gone are the days (finally) when Joseph Randle — he now plays for the better known Cowboys of the NFL— gashed defenses behind a stout offensive line. Oklahoma State’s most productive back now, Jeremy Smith, has scored seven touchdowns, but averages just 3.3 yards per carry. The Cyclones held Texas to 119 yards on the ground before struggling at Texas Tech and Baylor. (Slight) Advantage: Iowa State
Oklahoma State Pass Offense vs. Iowa State Pass Defense
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy so angered backup — and now, maybe, starting — quarterback Clint Chelf’s brother that a one-sided Twitter war ensued. Chelf’s in the mix again because dual-threat play-caller J.W. Walsh has thrown all of his five interceptions in the past four games. Dangerous receiver Josh Stewart ranks second in the Big 12 with 136.8 all-purpose yards per game. Advantage: Oklahoma State
Both teams feature explosive returners. The Cowboys’ Stewart leads the Big 12 with two punt returns for scores. ISU’s Jarvis West jetted 95 yards for a kickoff return touchdown at Texas Tech two weeks ago. The Cyclones surrendered their only two special teams touchdowns in last week’s “Baylor fiasco.” ISU has a pronounced advantage at punter with Kirby Van Der Kamp. (Slight) Advantage: Oklahoma State
Five straight losses at Jack Trice Stadium have Cyclone fans in a sour mood. Losses in general, really, but as the shivering starts, maintaining that recent, robust spike in crowd support becomes tougher — and senior Jacques Washington made a point to highlight how much his team needs to win at home. A spirited effort should be expected, but injuries can tamp down the most steely resolve. ISU coach Paul Rhoads is the first coach in school history to knock off a ranked team in three straight seasons and urgency has been ratcheted up as the season’s goals start sliding toward mathematical elimination. The Cowboys field a legit defense — something the Cyclones could use a break from. They rank ninth nationally in turnover margin (plus-1.2 per game). (Slight) Advantage: Iowa State
Iowa State will win if … Receivers can turn the big-play spigot back on and tight ends — E.J. Bibbs? Ernst Brun? — can become the “security blanket” they were expected to be. A return to form by the defense seems likely. It’s vital to force turnovers after going minus-3 in the Baylor Fiasco. Vital, no matter what, really. ISU’s snared just two interceptions. Only three teams in FBS have grabbed fewer.
Oklahoma State will win if … it can amp up a vapid running game and stay the course as a play-making defense. The Cowboys are very good up front, especially, on the defensive side. The Cyclones will have their hands full against DEs Tyler Johnson (8 TFLs, 4 sacks) and Jimmy Bean (2.5 sacks) as well as hulking DT Calvin Barnett (4 QB hurries). OSU also features four players with at least two interceptions.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 28, Iowa State 17
Three things to watch
Josh vs. Jarvis
It could be an interesting duel between Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State’s flash of a receiver/return man, and ISU’s Jarvis West, whose elusive ways finally are lighting up the scoreboard again. Stewart sped for a school-record 95-yard punt return for touchdown last week. West did the same on a kickoff two weeks ago.
Seven games, seven lines
Iowa State’s so nicked-up along its offensive front that there’s been a different starting five on the line in each game. Continuity is the buzz word here and there hasn’t been much. Players say communication helps balance that out, but coaches say the injuries — though not excuses for poor play — have had a major impact on production.
The recently gimpy ISU cornerback is an NFL caliber talent, coach Paul Rhoads said. Trouble is he’s been on a bad wheel — a severe ankle sprain that kept him out of the Baylor Fiasco. He’s fully expected back and could ease the pressure on true freshman Nigel Tribune, whose talent is obvious, as is his lack of seasoning.
Comments are closed.