Should you be as excited as you are for this season to begin? Yes, you should, because this is the most talent that Oklahoma State has ever had collectively in their football program. Sure, the days of Terry Miller, Phillip Dokes, and James White or the days of Gundy as a player with Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas, and Hart Lee Dykes were all good but they were top heavy. From top to bottom this is the best it has ever been.
Yes, the schedule is tough and road games at A&M, Missouri, Texas, and Texas Tech are no picnic, but with a 27-year-old quarterback set to turn 28 in October there is tremendous stability and that has led to a great record in road games (4-0 last season and 4-1 in 2009). I like the chances for this group provided they stay relatively healthy and really healthy with the key players like Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, Grant Garner, Levi Adcock, Shaun Lewis, Markelle Martin and there are others.
Todd Monken will be fine and I am even more convinced of that after spending 30 minutes meeting with him Thursday morning with my Cowboy Network broadcast partners. Monken is a very smart coach and understands the entire situation. I believe this season he will allow that offense to continue and even improve on it at times where it needs it. The biggest difference is that he will use the offense to play along and together with the defense more than his predecessor did.
OK, with all that intro here are, in our eyes, the key match-ups for the game with ULL.
I actually like the quarterback combination here for the Cajuns, as Masson proved last season to be a solid passer that usually makes good decisions. He actually had a tremendous first half in the game with Oklahoma State and he did not have his top receiving threat in tight end Ladarius Green. You mix in some of the athleticism of Gautier and that will give a defense trouble and for Daytawion Lowe stepping in for Johnny Thomas after missing all of last season to a shoulder injury, he is liable to have some huge butterflies and will likely have some adjustments to game speed and the supposed balance that ULL is expected to have in their new offense.
OSU Offensive Line vs. ULL Defensive Front
The veteran Cowboys offensive line is not only experienced and talented but deep as you will likely see three guards and three tackles rotating around center Grant Garner. I picked this match-up because Louisiana has experience up front on defense with fire hydrant Derreck Dean (5-10, 283) nailing down a front spot in that 3-4 defensive look. He also has returning veterans like fellow big guy Tyrell Gaddies (6-3, 275) and end-types Emeka Onyenekwu (6-4, 242) and Bernard Smith (6-3, 240) working up front. It is a strong position for the Cajuns but unfortunately it bumps up against a major Cowboy strength.
Advantage: Huge to OSU Offensive Line
OSU Star LB Shaun Lewis vs. ULL tight end LaDarius Green
Another good on good match-up for Saturday will be watching Shaun Lewis, a freshman All-American, go against NFL prospect LaDarius Green at tight end. That will be worth the price of admission. Green has the massive size advantage and is also pretty fast for 6-6, 236 pounds. This is really a big wide receiver going against a jumbo safety.
Advantage: Slight to Green
You read the match-ups above and you start thinking, wow, this game might be close. Nah, not really, because we picked the most competitive match-ups on the board and just about all the other match-ups Oklahoma State has a slight to decided advantage. I know the score at halftime last season in Lafayette was 21-17 in favor of the Cajuns. However, the final score was 54-28. The biggest mismatch of the game is likely the Cowboys wide receivers and the ULL secondary. If that proves true it might not take as long at Boone Pickens Stadium to get the game and the scoreboard going seriously in the direction of the Cowboys. I would also expect to see the Cowboys to be able to run the football and that may be a tough proposition for ULL even though the stated desire is to work harder at establishing a toughness and the ability to run the football. Oklahoma State has both the pressure of being a top 10 team and what comes with it, the expectation to beat an opponent like Louisiana by a lot.
Final Score: Oklahoma State 49 Louisiana-Lafayette 13
Big 12 Predictions I couldn't find our record from last season, but it was pretty darn good, both straight up and against the spread. We do not condone nor do we participate in wagering on college football or any college sporting events.
Friday, Sept. 2
@Baylor 28 #15-TCU 26
Saturday, Sept. 3
@Iowa State 30 Northern Iowa 17
@#24-Texas 38 Rice 10
McNeese State 16 @Kansas 14
@#21-Missouri 45 Miami-Ohio 9
@Kansas State 37 E. Kentucky 7
@Texas Tech 47 Texas State 14
@#1-Oklahoma 41 Tulsa 14
Sunday, Sept. 4
@#9-Texas A&M 38 S.M.U. 27