OSU-Missouri: Matchups & Prediction

Much of the talk around Oklahoma State this week has been on how to kick start the Cowboy offense on Saturday against the Missouri Tigers. The fact that Missouri's defense is 12th and last in the Big 12 ought to be of assistance. The major chore for the Cowboys Saturday will be stopping Tiger quarterback Brad Smith.

Having a veteran and talented signal caller in Smith has allowed Missouri's new spread offense to take off much quicker than the Cowboys version which features many young players, including redshirt freshman quarterback Bobby Reid. Smith accounts for 65 percent of the Tigers total offensive production. Chasing all kinds of records nationally and owning most of the Missouri record book, Smith has 1,325 yards of the Tigers 1,991 yards on offense. Smith has run for 396 yards in four games and has hit 103-of-162 oasses for 929 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions.

The problem is Missouri keeps defenses neutralized by running plenty of option schemes in its spread offense. Defending option is assignment football and it keeps a defense from going crazy with the blitzes and stunts for fear of running right out of covering one of the options.

OSU defensive coordinator Vance Bedford has not said what he will do other than he will find ways to stay aggressive and still cover the option. Don't expect the Cowboys to spy Smith with a linebacker or safety. Instead, expect the defense to stay gap conscious and play a mixture of blitz packages that don't compromise covering for the option.

Missouri has turned the ball over and you can be sure that Bedford wants to see his defenders go after their share of Tiger turnovers. The team-oriented Bedford would love to help the offense out on Saturday with some short fields.

Last season Smith had his second lowest total offense performance in the 20-17 loss to the Cowboys in Columbia. A repeat of that will go a long way toward the Cowboys enjoying their Saturday.

OSU Offensive Line vs. Missouri Defensive Line
The Cowboy offensive line had a chore last season with the Tigers two defensive tackles, both of whom are now in the NFL. This Tiger defense is hurting because those guys are gone. This Missouri defensive line is a lot lighter in the britches, averaging around 270 pounds across. It may be the last chance OSU has to have a decided size advantage inside. If the Cowboys can get the push and establish a strong running game then the load comes off Bobby Reid and allows him to get comfortable in running the offense.

OSU Special teams vs. Missouri Special Teams
Missouri's Marcus Woods is not only the first team running back, but he can really return punts. OSU has been pretty good at stopping punt returners in its new spread punt formation. Now in the other special teams areas the Cowboys hold the cards. Two, maybe three, big plays on special teams would also go a long way in helping the offense and it is imperative that the Cowboys give Missouri long fields to work with on offense. The further Brad Smith has to go the better the chance that he won't get there.

OSU Secondary vs. MU Wide Receivers
The Tigers have size and decent speed at wide receiver. The first chore of the Missouri wide outs is to block, but when called upon Sean Coffey, Brad Ekwerekwu and company can catch touchdown passes. The secondary will be asked to help with the run, but please not at the expense of getting beat for the home run ball. The secondary has to be very alert all day against the Tigers.

Jamie Thompson vs. Brad Smith
Thompson won't be the only guy defending Smith as it will be a team effort, but we are guessing that Thompson will have plenty of opportunity to meet with Smith one-on-one. Linebacker Jamar Ransom will likely see plenty of Smith as well. All we ask is no missed tackles. When Thompson and Ransom get the chance they have to make the play. They are both good options, so hopefully those Cowboy options can successfully counter the Missouri option.

Prediction
Oh how we love to be simple. Here we go again. Turnovers, the team that turns it over loses Saturday. The Cowboy offense will show up and expect Bobby Reid to be much more relaxed this week. The defense has a huge task as the Missouri offense is legit. I thought all week that I would take Missouri by a touchdown, but the more I add it up with the OSU defense and special teams along with an improved offense I see a Cowboy win. It won't be one for the ages, but it will be a welcomed rebound from last week.
OSU 23, Missouri 21

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