On the Line

Oklahoma State understands what's at stake Saturday when they face the Baylor Bears. The Cowboys have a shot at nine wins this season and a possible trip to the Cotton Bowl.

 Don't be fooled by the talk earlier in the week, the Oklahoma State football squad is well aware of what is at stake on Saturday in Waco. Yes, this team wants to win nine regular season games for the first time since 1988, but they also want to go to the Cotton Bowl on January 2. Political correctness prohibited the players from just gushing over a possible trip to Dallas for the traditional game, but that is the Cowboys first choice and it doesn't happen without a win in Waco to close out the season against Baylor. The Cotton Bowl representatives will be at the game along with reps from the Alamo Bowl.
 Talking to a high ranking administrator in the O-State athletic department the Cowboys win and Texas finishes with a win the day after Thanksgiving against Texas A&M to put Texas in the BCS and Cotton looks good for the Cowboys. The Cotton Bowl has openly stated they would like to have Oklahoma State and the feeling is mutual. The game has already sold a lot of tickets and many of those were purchased by OSU fans.  
 The possible hang ups in getting to Dallas would be, obviously, a loss to Baylor. The others would be Texas missing out on the BCS, a Kansas State win over Oklahoma, which would leave Texas available. The Cotton Bowl is on Fox and the CB selection committee is certainly going to listen to Fox about their desires for television purposes. Conventional wisdom says hee that OSU would outweigh a sinking Nebraska, but might not Texas.
 Bowl bids don't go out until Sunday, Dec. 8, but next week the BCS could release some teams and some deals could start to surface.

 It was just two years ago that a 2-7 Oklahoma State team traveled to Waco, and did little to scare a 2-7 Baylor squad. The Cowboys unleashed a couple of future stars that day as freshman cornerback Darrent Williams picked off two passes and returned them both for touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Josh Fields came in for ailing starter Aso Pogi and threw for three touchdowns including one to Rashaun Woods in helping the Cowboys to a 38-22 win. The Coboys would go on the next week to knock off 4th ranked Oklahoma 16-13.
 Since that O-State win in Waco in 2001, the Cowboys have a record of 17-8. Baylor has a a record of 7-17. New Baylor coach Guy Morriss said this week that he sees what Les Miles has done at Oklahoma State in instilling discipline and dedication and would like to think that could be a model for a similar turnaround at Baylor. The Cowboys need to remember how hungry they were for success before that 2001 meeting and realize that Baylor is that hungry right now.

 The injury situation did get worse in the Kansas game, and several players have struggled with problems in practice this week. Oklahoma State has a chance to have tailback Tatum Bell, wide receiver D'Juan Woods, cornerback Darrent Williams, and linebacker Pagitte McGee back for the Baylor game. In fact, all of those players should play.
 The list of wounded that will miss the regular season finales includes defensive end Antonio Smith, center Ben Buie, offensive tackle Corey Hilliard, wide receiver Chay Nease, and tailback Seymore Shaw.

 One of the keys to winning on the road against an underdog opponent is the "who's your daddy?' philosophy. Come out quickly, stuff the opposing offense, and score on the opposing defense. Make sure the crowd and the opposing team realizes you are the "daddy" of the day. The Cowboys were successful in accomplishing that in road wins at SMU and Texas A&M. Scoring early and shutting the opponent out in the first half. At SMU the lead was 38-0 at the half. In College Station the advantage at the half was 21-0. In road losses at Nebraska, the Cowboys allowed the Huskers an early field goal and a game of attrition finally went to Nebraska after a pair of Cowboy turnovers in the second half. At Oklahoma it was the Sooners that used the daddy approach scoring early after a Cowboy turnover before taking control of the game.
 Baylor has a win at home over Colorado, and when the opposing team contributes the Bears are quite capable of making them pay.

 Baylor came up with a pretty good defensive effort last week against Oklahoma, and they did it by stacking the box with eight and sometimes nine and blitzing nearly every snap including coming with several corner blitzes. The assumption was all week that Baylor might do the same against the Cowboys, but a quick review of the tape of Baylor's games with Texas and Kansas State show the Bears played those two teams a little more straight with primarily four man rush, some blitzes, and some zone coverages.
 The Bears have struggled all season against the pass, giving up 263.5-yards per game. They aren't much better against the run allowing an average of 186-yards per game. Overall, they rank 106th in the nation in total defense. The main weapon is John Garrett. The standout from Mart that was recruited hard by the Cowboys had been playing middle linebacker, but now often lines up on the line of scrimmage and just goes after the ball. He leads the team in sacks and tackles for losses.

 The number one concern for the Cowboy defenders is Baylor tailback Rashad Armstrong. The 5-8, 192 pound senior has 990-yards rushing. He is looking for a 1,000-yard season and thought he could get over that mark last week with 45-yards needed against Oklahoma. On his first carry, OU linebacker Teddy Lehman tackled him at the line of scrimmage and told him he wasn't going to get his thousand in Norman. Armstrong had 112-yards and two touchdowns against OSU last season in the Cowboys 63-28 win in Stillwater.
 Last week Baylor made a quarterback change going to redshirt freshman Shawn Bell out of China Spring, Texas. Bell had an okay game, but it was good enough for the Baylor staff to stay with him and not bring in previous starter Aaron Karas. On the season Bell has completed 39-of-65 passes for 357-yards with no touchdowns and just one interception. The plan will be to go with Bell, but bring in Karas if the situation calls for it.
 The offensive line is big, but as a hard time moving and they lead the Big 12 in giving up sacks. The wide receivers have been inconsistent with Quiroga's 35 receptions for 425-yards and three touchdowns leading the way.
 The offense and it's inconsistency has been the biggest problem for Baylor. They have lost 13 fumbles and been intercepted 12 times for a combined 25 turnovers and their third down success rate is a paltry 31.4 percent.

 The Cowboys hold the advantages in special teams, but there are two areas of concern going in. Before the Oklahoma game, Baylor wide receiver Robert Quiroga had returned kickoffs for touchdowns in two straight games. Quiroga, a senior, went the distance 98-yards at Kansas State and then took one out of the endzone for 100-yards at home against Texas Tech. The string was broken last week at Oklahoma, but he can go. The Cowboys defense is that Cole Farden rarely lets kickoff returners have a chance as he has 51 touchbacks on 68 kickoffs this season.
 The Cowboys will face the number two punter in the league in Daniel Sepulveda. The redshirt freshman, who walked on as a linebacker, is averaging 43.4-yards a punt on 81 kicks.

 The first weekend in December is shaping up as a huge recruiting weekend for the Cowboys. Recently, Oklahoma State opened up another spot for the future class by informing NEO tight end and fromer OSU signee out of Edmond Santa Fe High School Sean Harmon that they did not intend on picking him up. Also, disregard the rumor that mammoth Houston Jones offensive lineman Doug Smith has committed to Oklahoma State. Smith is a good prospect and one the Cowboys are considering, but they have not committed to the 6-7, 350 pound tackle just yet. Meanwhile, the Cowboys already have some outstanding prospects coming in on December 5-7 to check out the OSU campus with an official visit.
Below is a list of the expected visitors for that weekend.

Expected Visitors for Dec. 5-7

Prentiss Elliott, Athlete, 6-1, 210, 4.5, Tulsa (TSST), OK - As a running back gained over 2,200-yards this fall

Danny Gorrer, CB, 6-1, 175, 4.4, Port Arthur (Memorial), TX - Junior that will graduate early and can play

Roderick Johnson, LB, 6-3, 220, 4.6, Galveston (Ball), TX - Size of a LB, but speed of a safety

Tremaine Johnson, DE, 6-3, 245, 4.7, Galena Park, TX - One of the top DE in the nation

Cyril Obizor, DE, 6-4, 230, 4.65, Pearland, TX - Had a great season for a strong playoff team

Shae Reagan, LB, 6-3, 231, 4.6, Idalou, TX - Tore his ACL this season, but OSU loves him as a LB, also played QB

Michael Tate, DE, 6-4, 240, 4.7, Tulsa (Washington), OK - Top defender on top 5A team in Oklahoma

Walter Thomas, OT/DT, 6-5, 330, 5.1, Galveston (Ball), TX - Could play on either side of the ball, real good.

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