None of the Oklahoma State coaches and players were buying into my philosophy that the final nonconference game of the season against UTSA has some aspects in common with the third preseason game in the NFL. That is the game NFL teams play their starters the longest and also do some game planning in preparation for the regular season.
I realize that the NFL preseason games look so radically different from the NFL regular season, and that all college football games count. However, you do want to have your team ratchet up their play and intensity in anticipation of Big 12 Conference play. I still like the comparison to a lesser degree and I’m pretty certain that the fans want to see the best performance out of the Cowboys that they have seen in 2015.
I’m not in fear of Texas. I really think the Longhorns are in full disarray, and I am still the guy that picked OSU to win that game in Austin by 28 points. I’d like to see a sharp Oklahoma State offense that has success running the football, cuts down penalties, and gets a fast start to go with a defense that has been very good so far. I’d like to see some more good returns, Zach Sinor continue his excellent punting, and Ben Grogan not miss anything or get it blocked because of a low kick.
OSU vs. UTSA Key Matchups
Oklahoma State defensive ends #38 Emmanuel Ogbah and #92 Jimmy Bean
vs. UTSA right tackle #70 Jordan Gray and left tackle #74 Reed Darragh
Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean are big, strong, and very fast for their size while Gray (6-2, 265) and Darragh (6-4, 285) are light for offensive tackles. The defensive ends will need to be aware of stellar tight end David Morgan II as they will be responsible for jamming him at the line of scrimmage, but in straight pass rush situations you would have to like Ogbah and Bean in this matchup, or maybe mismatch.
Oklahoma State strong safety #31 Tre Flowers and star linebacker #20 Jordan Burton
vs. UTSA tight end #82 David Morgan II
Morgan, who we mentioned as stellar and likely a future NFL player, is a security blanket for UTSA quarterback Blake Bogunschutz. In Arizona against the 22nd-ranked Wildcats, Morgan caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. The final was 42-32 and UTSA left points on the field and likely could have won the game. Last week in San Antonio against Kansas State Morgan only caught four passes for 45 yards and no scores. K-State won 30-3. Tre Flowers and Jordan Burton need to take Morgan out of play by keeping him covered.
Oklahoma State wide receiver #7 Brandon Sheperd
vs. UTSA cornerback #21 Bennett Okotcha
Okotcha is a former OU player who transferred closer to home to play more at UTSA. He’s a very good corner and Brandon Sheperd is singled out because he was Mason Rudolph’s “go to” and seemingly easy find on the field last season. He has yet to get going and they have yet to click this season. For Rudolph and Sheperd think Bedlam when you see Okotcha and play like you did in Norman.
I’m adjusting my prediction this week to come down a little and just pick a slightly larger point total than last week. I’m going to guess this week all kicks get made and there are no penalties that wipe touchdowns off the scoreboard. Those factors alone could get the Cowboys to 38 and I know it makes me feel good, but the defensive players will be upset or would be upset if they knew I picked UTSA to score six points.
No. 25 Oklahoma State 38, UTSA 6
Big 12 Predictions
Last Week: (Straight Up) 8-2 (Against the Spread-Not all games have point spreads) 5-3-1
Season: (Straight Up) 17-3 (Against the Spread-Not all games have point spreads) 9-7-1
Tulsa 14, @#17 Oklahoma 41
Louisiana Tech 20, @Kansas State 34
Texas Tech 28, @Arkansas 34
California 31, @Texas 28
SMU 16, @#3 TCU 49
Iowa State 14, @Toledo 27