Heart of Dallas: Key Matchups & Prediction

Oklahoma State finished its preparation for the Heart of Dallas Bowl and Big 10 foe Purdue on Sunday at Highlander Stadium at Highland Park High School. After the Cowboys finished Sunday's practice the Oklahoma State tractor trailer rig was loaded up with all equipment which was transported to the Cotton Bowl to make ready for the team picture and walk through in the stadium on Monday.

During the Sunday practice, which was identical to a normal Thursday practice on a typical game week, the defense got the better deal as the two sides of the ball split to maximize room to work.

The defense worked in the spacious and very nice Highland Park indoor practice facility, a real building and not a bubble that features an 80-yard field with an end zone and enough space above to kick field goals, but not punts and kickoffs.

Over on the regular stadium field, the offensive players amused themselves and confused anybody that might have been spying. The players switched jerseys as offensive tackle Parker Graham was wearing Joe Randle's number one.

Also, wide receiver Charlie Moore wore backup center Jake Jenkins' number 54, making it seem as if Jenkins caught two touchdown passes during the run through. Offensive guard Lane Taylor really stretched out fullback Kye Staley's number 9. The quarterbacks traded with each other keeping their green "no touch" jerseys in place.

The Cowboys seem to be in great spirits and they were very enthusiastic in the practice that is really the last practice of any consequence of the season. Another plus is there were no injuries and no mishaps throughout the week, and curfew really cuts down this evening with an 11 p.m. curfew. Everybody should be healthy for this one.

With that in mind here are the key matchups for Tuesday game between the Cowboys and the Boilermakers.

OSU center Evan Epstein and guards Lane Taylor and Brandon Webb
vs. Purdue defensive tackles Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston
This is just too good, and it will be a lot of fun to watch as Short is a probable high NFL Draft choice. He is a load, as standing next to him in person he is nearly as wide as he is tall and is easily 330 pounds or more and stout. He is one strong son-of-a-gun.

Gaston is a good sidekick that will keep the Cowboys from getting crazy and triple teaming Short. They shouldn't need to as Epstein and either Taylor or Webb should be able to get Short, and then the other guard will need to be ready to man up on the 300-pound Gaston. On the season, Short has 14.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Gaston is shut out on sacks but has 5.5 tackles for loss.

Purdue has 20 sacks as a team and OSU has allowed only 10 all season, so something gives here. Short has mentioned the run game and desire to stop that, and he and Gaston can control the "A" gaps. I like the Cowboys chances to pry them out on some plays.
Edge: Cowboys OL wins this solidly

OSU wide receivers Charlie Moore and Austin Hays
vs. Purdue cornerbacks Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen
The Purdue corners are really good, and Johnson got a lot of compliments from the Cowboys receivers and coaches after wataching tape.

Get ready Oklahoma State fans that have craved a pair of corners that will get in the face of receivers and play bump and run and try to jam receivers off the line as Purdue's Johnson and Allen will do plenty of that.

The Boilermakers will blitz behind lots of cover zero and cover one. The home-run ball will be possible if Moore, Hays and Isaiah Anderson can get loose off the line and Clint Chelf can throw it. If Purdue can man it with success that will not help the Cowboys running game any.
Edge: Slight to Purdue's Johnson and Allen

OSU hybrid defender Lyndell Johnson
vs. Purdue quarterback Robert Marve
I think you will see the Cowboys use a lot of defenses that involve Johnson in the line-up, and for good reason as good things tend to happen for the Cowboys when he is involved.

I like Johnson on the pass rush, I like him in coverage, and I like him as a spy on the opposing team's top run threat. He can do it all. He is primed and ready and I can see Johnson being good for two turnovers on Tuesday.

Marve is an experienced quarterback who is playing on a torn ACL, but is aggressive, tough, and motivated in closing out his career.
Edge: Solid to OSU's Lyndell Johnson

Heart of Dallas Bowl Prediction
The Cowboys have shown all the signs of wanting to be here, practicing hard and being enthusiastic and really wanting to wipe out the taste of the overtime loss at Oklahoma and the bad loss at Baylor. The talk is especially wanting this one for the seniors.

The Cowboys have the explosiveness on offense to get it done, and the Purdue offense seems like a good matchup for the sometimes abused Cowboy defense. But beware of the possibilities of what happened in Houston on Friday night. Texas Tech and Minnesota got ugly with each other.

Purdue has not had a devout coaching staff but one that has been interim and the discipline might not be as stiff as it was. The game has drawn Pac-12 officials and it could add up to a volatile situation. If the Cowboys play fast, play smart, and play confidently then they should win significantly. Speed and strength should be in their favor.

Oklahoma State 52, Purdue 27

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