Normally a home game with Iowa State might be a foregone conclusion, but this season in the Big 12 there are no foregone conclusions as the Cyclones almost proved last week in a 45-42 loss to Baylor when the Bears took their only lead on a field goal on the last play of the game.
The other important ingredient to this game for the Oklahoma State Cowboys is for them to prove that they are not just resilient with their wins over Pittsburgh and Texas following tough losses, but to prove they can be consistent with two wins in a row. Oklahoma State, as of right now, looks as good as any team in the Big 12, Baylor included despite the Cowboys loss in Waco. The conference looks like a free-for-all that won't be decided until the final Saturday of play on Dec. 3. If you want a piece, if you want to stay relevant, then beating Iowa State in Boone Pickens on Saturday is absolutely necessary.
Another neat little piece of the puzzle to the Saturday afternoon matinee is the showdown thousands of miles away from their homes in South Carolina as one-time state championship rivals meet up again. Mason Rudolph threw for 488 yards and a record eight touchdown passes in the 62-35 win by his Rock Hill Northwestern Trojans over Jacob Park's Startford team.
Park is now at Iowa State and playing a significant role as a back-up that is playing. Park, a former Elite 11 and U.S. Army All-American quarterback, washed out at Georgia and through encouragement from Rudolph wound up at NEO A&M Junior College in Miami, Okla., and resurrected his career. This season he has thrown 334 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. You can find more on the Rudolph and Park relationship in this story that was very much owned by Go Pokes.
Oddly enough, while both quarterbacks and especially Rudolph, will be important, neither is involved in our key matchups for the Cowboys and the Cyclones.
Here are the key matchups for Oklahoma State hosting Iowa State:
OSU Middle Linebacker #45 Chad Whitener
vs. Iowa State Quarterback #7 Joel Lanning
Pretty simple in that having Lanning as a running quarterback and a good one who is more than willing to get after it and be physical will give the Cyclones a number advantage against any defense. Whitener is critical in both his reading of Lanning and the Iowa State offense, his direction to get his teammates on defense into the right place, and then his individual efforts to stop the plays where the QB run game factors in, such as QB power, zone read, QB draw, and speed option.
My Call: Whitener battled big last week against Texas and he and his teammates, under his direction, will have to curtail the QB run game. I think they will.
OSU Cornerback #7 Ramon Richards
vs. Iowa State Wide Receiver (X) #5 Allen Lazard
Lazard, all 6-5, 223 pounds of his badness, could line up opposite Ashton Lampkin and likely will some but I will bet they will try to get the matchup with Richards. I would if I were them. With Lanning as a running quarterback, and Park can run too if he is in, that means the Cowboys will have to be careful with how much they give help to the corners. If Iowa State bleeds the Cowboys in the secondary that could go a long way to staging the upset.
My Call: Richards has been beaten deep by similar receivers like Ishmael Zamora of Baylor, but I do believe that Richards is better and I will say Iowa State only gets one or two big plays here, if that.
OSU Center #71 Brad Lundblade
vs. Iowa State Nose Guard #97 Demond Tucker
I said this week that Oklahoma State fans that have spent the better part of last season and the first half of this one blasting the offensive line and center Brad Lundblade in particular need to change their tune or message as Lundblade the offensive line have played better. The Texas game was maybe the best ever for Lundblade, and the guards on either side of him in Larry Williams and redshirt freshman Marcus Keyes. Lundblade was awesome in neutralizing Texas nose tackle Poona Ford, who a year ago was a wrecking ball in Austin. Tucker is a different breed as he is shorter and more compact creating leverage advantage. He is also very quick and had an excellent game against Lundblade and OSU last season in Ames. Time to step up and avenge another nose guard for Lundblade.
My Call: I like the way Lundblade is playing right now but Tucker could be the kind of NG that gives Lundblade the most trouble. He is quick and smaller. I make it too close to call.
Oklahoma State-Iowa State Prediction
Iowa State played excellent last week at home against Baylor, and I truly believe that the Cyclones will get a valuable skin in an upset this season but coming off the heartbreaker last week will be tough. Oklahoma State is on the verge of gathering themselves for a strong run at the Big 12 Championship. Why not, because when they have played their best they have looked like a contender. Iowa State will be tough and I see a competitive game until the third quarter when Oklahoma State will open up the lead on the way to a much anticipated open week. Consistency for the Cowboys is one afternoon away.
Oklahoma State 48, Iowa State 28
Big 12 Predictions - Week #5
Record: Last Week, SU 3-2 ATS 3-2; This Year, SU 26-11 ATS 17-12
Texas 23, #22 Oklahoma 31 (Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas)
Oklahoma wins a close game as Texas can't get the run game to produce enough "cotton candy."
TCU 55 @ Kansas 20
TCU gets disinterested toward the end as basketball practice starts getting more and more attention in Lawrence.
Texas Tech 31, @ Kansas State 20
Wildcats do a good job holding Tech down, but hold themselves down on offense.