OSU-Missouri State: Key Matchups

Robert Allen's key matchups for Oklahoma State's game Saturday against Missouri State at Boone Pickens Stadium. Kickoff is now scheduled for 12:05 p.m., and not 6:05 p.m. as originally scheduled.

1. Cowboys defensive end UGO CHINASA vs. Missouri State tight end CLAY HARBOR
Harbor is probably the best player on the Missouri State team unless that honor goes to the younger quarterback Cody Kirby. Harbor is both a good pass receiver (3 receptions for 14 yards last week) and a solid blocker.

Chinasa is getting better every week and had chances for sacks last week, generally just missing because of a constant outside approach. He is looking to break inside and he did get hits on UH quarterback Case Keenum as he threw the ball.

Harbor is good size but Chinasa is bigger and stronger and that would be the major advatage here as Chinasa can also match Harbor's athleticism and quickness.

This is close but the advantage goes to Chinasa, and remember, Harbor is one of the best players on the MSU squad.

2. Cowboys star linebacker ANDRE SEXTON vs. Missouri State quarterback CODY KIRBY
Kirby was the top freshman in the league last season after earning the starting job for the Bears in 2007. This season he is the preseason choice as All-Missouri Valley quarterback. Last week Kirby was 21-of-42 but threw two interceptions. He threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 71 yards. All that came against Division II Washburn.

To think he would have to produce better numbers than that for Missouri State to have a chance to be competitive with Oklahoma State. It's not going to happen, but one of the players standing between Kirby and a pleasant experience at Boone Pickens Stadium is star linebacker Andre Sexton. Sexton has been very consistent in the first two games with nine tackles against Washington State and seven stops against Houston. Sexton has some savvy to him as does Kirby.

We'll take Sexton here to make enough plays to keep Kirby off balance.

3. Cowboys tight end BRANDON PETTIGREW vs. Missouri State linebacker JEREMY DAWSON and safety ROGER WRIGHT
So far neither Washington State nor Houston was willing to cover Oklahoma State All-Big 12 tight end Brandon Pettigrew man up. The spectacular playmaker Pettigrew has been spied and doubled up.

Now that Missouri State has seen the running game with Kendall Hunter and company, and the damage that wide receiver Dez Bryant is capable of doing, maybe the Bears will be the first to give Pettigrew some room to work. The again maybe they won't. Either way in this game, Pettigrew, at 6-6 and 260 pounds, is a man among mortals. Covering Pettigrew with all the other weapons on the Oklahoma State offense is a huge chore for the Missouri State defense.

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