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OSU-Pitt: Key Matchups & Prediction

The matchup in the trenches between Oklahoma State defensive tackles Vincent Taylor and DeQuinton Osborne and Pittsburgh offensive linemen Dorian Johnson and Alex Officer could determine who walks off the field the winner on Saturday.

If I have you this far then I'm considering this a victory. Most writers, broadcasters, especially in radio, of which I am one, will tell you they are picking games great even when they are not. They will tell you they know it all and you know they don't. There are blowhards across this country that will make you believe that they know everything there is to know and that coaches are calling them for advice.

Not here. The last few seasons I've been fortunate. I have had a lot more right than wrong and I've had people calling me up to find out my picks and even to ask what I think on games outside the Big 12. I have had people that have taken my picks and bet them somewhere (I tell them not to tell me) and made money. I have taken no money for these picks. They are part of gopokes.com and scout.com. I will admit that I got a restaurant gift card in the mail that had an unsigned note that simply stated, "Thanks for the picks!" It had no return address or name so I did use the $300 gift card spread out over about nine months.

So far this season there will be no congratulations, no gift cards without a return address. Heck, I might start looking under my truck and for anyone that might be following me. I have been awful! You won't see many media types writing that in their prediction columns. I've always been honest and right now, I am struggling to make good picks in game straight up.

I overvalued Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Kansas, TCU, and yes, Oklahoma State. I undervalued Baylor (although I still think Baylor will fold) and Texas (the Longhorns may be for real). That is seven teams, so right now the only teams I seem to have a good handle on are Iowa State (bad), Kansas State (a little above average), and West Virginia (deserving of being my sleeper team).

Those first few paragraphs served to cover the real frustration in Stillwater this week. Oh, it echoed daily on my Triple Play Sports Network radio show. Oklahoma State fans are as demanding any fans out there of a perennial top 25 program.

Yes, they were mad at the MAC officials and the Big 12 replay official last week for screwing it up and getting both the penalty and the enforcement of the bogus penalty wrong after the game as they believe that mostly or partially cost the Cowboys the win against Central Michigan. However, Mike Gundy and his staff, the players, and anybody else they could think of was responsible as well for a lackluster effort against the Chippewas. They want better plays called on offense, better schemes on defense, Barry J. Sanders returning more punts. They want Mason Rudolph to be more accurate and not as high on his throws, the offensive line to block better, the running backs to run further, and defenders to do a better job of covering opposing receivers.

I countered this week with wanting more people to show up at the games, less people to bolt at halftime and not come back or come back around at the start of the fourth quarter. As you might imagine that didn't play entirely well, although you'd be surprised how many fans agreed with me.

A lot of people have been doing a lot of complaining and expressing a lot of frustration. It is time to stop, and thankfully the players were over it quickly and moved on to preparing for Pittsburgh, which arrived this afternoon in Stillwater on an American Airlines Airbus. I mention that because that was a big plane landing there at Stillwater Regional. The coaches are still fuming some, but they were able to blow off steam working on the game plan.

This is a very important game. I think it is a season-deciding game as the Cowboys launch into a mini gauntlet with at Baylor and then Texas in Stillwater on the heels of the Pitt game. It is a time tomorrow where everybody gets rid of the residual and shows up ready to cheer and have the back of their favorite football team and coaching staff.

For a change in this season, I will try to nail the key matchups and make some better predictions. It's time for Key Matchups and Predictions for the first ever meeting between Pitt and Oklahoma State.

OSU Offensive Tackles #77 Victor Salako and #60 Zach Crabtree
vs. Pitt Defensive Ends #92 Rori Blair and #5 Ejuan Price
Okay, Crabtree played a pretty clean game last week versus Central Michigan and I'm willing to say he is the best offensive linemen on this team right now. Salako is gifted and the bone spurs or calcium deposits, whatever those two bluges were in his foot, are gone and he is slim and trim, stronger too. Price is the real threat here, but Blair is not bad. He's just not the original starter. Pittsburgh has 10 sacks so far in two games this season and Oklahoma State has allowed seven. But one, get this, is the intentional grounding penalty from last week. By rule that goes under sacks in the stats. Still, six sacks in two games and one of them is Southeastern Louisiana. The O-line should be ashamed. Play with some leverage, get down on the 6-0 Price. You had better because that is about the only way to block the 255-pound strong square. Pride needs to factor in too because Rudolph besides being sacked five times in actuality, Tyler Cornelius was sacked once in the opener, has been hit too many times. Forget the house, the Oklahoma State offensive line needs to protect its quarterback. 

My Call: I'll call it a draw, but a draw means the defensive ends have two sacks. Twice they take down Mason Rudolph.

OSU Wide Receivers #28 James Washington and #81 Jhajuan Seales
vs. Pitt Cornerbacks #14 Avante Maddox and #38 Ryan Lewis
Ryan Lewis was the Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week last week and he got it despite Penn State throwing for 332 yards last Saturday. Washington and Seales are bigger and they are faster and they should be highly motivated. I think they have a chance to make more than a few plays on Saturday. They will need to because I think Oklahoma State will struggle to get much out of the running game. I hope I'm wrong about that last sentence, but I'm fairly certain about the second sentence.  

My Call: Cowboys have to see major production out of Washington and Seales and the rest of the receivers to win. I think they will get it. 

OSU Defensive Tackles #96 Vincent Taylor and #91 DeQuinton Osborne
vs. Pitt Left Guard #53 Dorian Johnson and Center #63 Alex Officer
I know it's hard to get anyone to watch something other than the ball. You might miss a touchdown or a great catch or a knee buckling move. It will be fun to watch the center of the line of scrimmage when Pitt has the ball. There is a lot of pride boiling over inside Vincent Taylor, and I really don't know D.Q. Osborne but he sure seems like business. I'm guessing there is a lot of pride with Alex Officer and Dorian Johnson. The two Pitt offensive linemen are on the NFL radar screen as Johnson is a preseason All-American and a senior and Office is a junior and considered a very smart center prospect. The Pitt offensive linemen are big and the Cowboys defensive tackles are shorter, Osborne is maybe 5-10, maybe. At defensive tackle I love small, quick packages and I have a feeling. Besides, what better way to get some street cred with the NFL folks than to make some big plays in this game against this competition?  

My Call: Taylor and Osborne need to wear out Pitt inside and I believe they will. 

Oklahoma State-Pittsburgh Prediction
You know it hurts not to have a number out in front of Oklahoma State. It hurts to see the team you follow fall out of the rankings. There is a nice sense of pride that comes from seeing Oklahoma State in the top 25 and the score or the game schedule being repeated over and over under the screen on the ESPN and Fox networks. The Cowboys need to get back on the horse. This game is a little on the strange side with the match up. It will be a battle of wills as Pitt wants to run the ball and stop the run. Oklahoma State wants to stop the run and then be balanced on offense. I really don't think Oklahoma State is going to run the ball very far on Pitt unless the Panthers make a serious change of personality and start playing more zone coverage and back off the blitzing. Oklahoma State will throw and the Cowboys should make lots of yards after Penn State threw for 332 yards last week. Pitt ran for 341 on Penn State last week and they won't get that this week against a team that is allowing an average of 77 yards a game. Big plays for Oklahoma State and a few drives for Pitt. In the end the Cowboys get a couple of turnovers and a much more accurate Mason Rudolph has a big day hitting Washington, Seales, and the rest. My advice is don't leave because you won't want to miss even a minute.
Oklahoma State 41, Pittsburgh 35

Big 12 Predictions
Record: Last Week, SU 5-4 ATS 4-4
This Year SU 12-7 ATS 6-6

Friday
#19 Baylor 48, @ Rice 14
I still believe Baylor will struggle with depth issues, but Rice isn't good enough to make them struggle with much of anything

Saturday
Kansas 21, @ Memphis 37
Jayhawks have come back to Earth and may not fly again until Iowa State in November.

Iowa State 6, @ TCU 45
Iowa State is devoid of speed on defense and that is not good against TCU.

Florida Atlantic 14, @ Kansas State 34
Wildcats have had to wait two weeks to get back on the field after respectable but still losing effort with Stanford.

Louisiana Tech 42, @ Texas Tech 47
Red Raiders trip to the desert proved they still have no defense and it will show up again against La.Tech.

#4 Ohio State 38, @ #14 Oklahoma 14
The line is thin but that's the gambling line; the Ohio State defensive line is anything but thin.  

#16 Texas 28, @ California 20
Closer than one would think, but Texas is still 3-0.


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