How Do The Cowboys Win Bedlam?

How about this? Most would think in trying to plot a course for the 5-6 Oklahoma State Cowboys to score the upset in Norman on Saturday and beat the 8-3 Oklahoma Sooners that the biggest emphasis and maybe the most creative fortune telling would have to take place on the offensive side for the Cowboys and the defensive side for the Sooners. That's not true. What is the key to an OSU victory?

A check of the most recent weeks and results by both schools have caused me to be more concerned about the defense for the Cowboys and the roll they would have to play against a rapidly developing "old school" and almost SEC-like running attack by Oklahoma. The game we will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. and be televised by Fox Sports 1.

It will have little to do with the national college football scene but could have a huge impact on how both teams go into their recruiting and off seasons. OU knows it will be playing in a bowl game and Oklahoma State needs a win in order to be bowl eligible.

Oklahoma State Offense vs. Oklahoma Defense
This matchup actually could favor the Cowboys. The Cowboys showed offensive promise against Baylor in a steady rain after severely struggling in their previous four games of a five-game losing streak.

Mason Rudolph was pulled out of redshirt for the ailing Daxx Garman and Rudolph was good. It was obvious he breathed some life and confidence into the offense by completing 13-of-25 passing for 281 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Yes, he had a pair of interceptions too and he was sacked three times but he also showed he could run and escape and make a play when it appeared there was no play to be made.

Because of Rudolph and his infusion to the offense there is no other game to look at other than OSU-Baylor contest, and Oklahoma recently played the Bears as well. The Cowboys, again, had 116 rushing yards to add to the 281 passing yards for 397 yards of total offense. Nothing to write home about but a good start for Rudolph in his first start.

Against that same Baylor defense, the Sooners by comparison had 171 yards on the ground and just 148 passing yards for a total output of 319 yards. While the Cowboys lost to Baylor 49-28 the score in Norman was worse at 48-14. No, you can't do comparative scoring, but it is worth at least noting.

The Oklahoma defense squashed Kansas in its last game in the pouring rain in Norman. The Jayhawks could only muster 103 yards. But Texas Tech with freshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes in his first start-to-finish effort for the Red Raiders, had 486 yards of total offense with 393 yards and four touchdowns through the air. Baylor had 544 yards of offense at OU with five rushing touchdowns and one through the air.

A good game plan and an expected improved effort the next time out from Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys could be very competitive in this matchup.

Oklahoma State Defense vs. Oklahoma Offense
This matchup could be more difficult as the Oklahoma State defense on paper all season has been competitive but just the past few games they have struggled and the strong possibility as to why is a group of players that are worn out. You have to hope the bye week and the days off over Thanksgiving will help.

Just take roll of middle linebacker Ryan Simmons, weak side linebacker Seth Jacobs, star linebacker Josh Furman, and the entire secondary of corners Kevin Peterson and freshman Ramon Richards along with safeties Jordan Sterns and Tre Flowers. Those guys have played 90 percent or more of the 738 plays the Cowboys have defended this season.

In the Baylor game, Furman and Flowers had injuries that sent them to the bench and true freshman Kirk Tucker and veteran safety Larry Stephens ate up some serious plays. Hopefully, they will be ready to play a lot on Saturday at OU. The fatigue and the injuries have led to the epidemic of missed tackles as of late.

The Cowboys gave up 317 rushing yards to Baylor and only 262 yards in the air. That is a reversal of how Oklahoma State has done throughout most of the season as they have ranked somewhere in the middle of the Big 12 on run defense and have ranked last or next to last most of the season on defending the pass.

A good example were the previous two games as Texas only ran for 125 yards in Stillwater but the quarterback that is last in the conference in passing in Tyrone Swoopes threw for 305 yards in the 28-7 Texas win. Kansas State rushed for 134 yards and then threw for 287 yards in a 421-yard offensive output against the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State's problem with missed tackles has to be cleaned up, cleared up, and over by Saturday as OU freshman running sensation Samaje Perine is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and with 1,428 rushing yards leads the conference.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys biggest problem defensively in defending the pass may not be as much of a negative as Oklahoma has passed little in recent weeks since Trevor Knight was injured vs. Baylor. Knight did not practice last week and likely will not play in Bedlam leaving the shore to Cody Thomas, who threw for 39 yards in the rain against Kansas and 133 yards against Texas Tech. Coinciding with that drop in passing yardage is not only the quarterback change but also the injury to explosive wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Shepard missing another game would greatly help the Cowboys cause.

Special Teams
This is pretty even all the way around, although the Cowboys have the advantage in punting with Kip Smith having an excellent season, especially in recent weeks. At the start of the season field goal kicking would have been a heavy OU advantage with Michael Hunnicutt but Ben Grogan has kicked well and Hunnicutt has struggled especially in that Kansas State loss in Norman. The struggles have continued for the senior. The return games are good for both, but if Shepard is out that shifts the favor in returns over to the Cowboys.

We will focus on this game all week, but depending on the team health and the attitude heading into the week of practice along with improvement, we can plot a course for an upset. It will take a huge effort from all involved.

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