1. OSU defensive ends Ugo Chinasa and Derek Burton vs. Troy offensive tackles Chris Jamison (left) and Dion Small (right)
Check the Houston game and the success that Cougars quarterback Case Keenum had scrambling around and either completing passes or running downfield for gains that moved the chains. You have to understand that the schemes the Cowboys employed in the second half, once they gained control on the scoreboard, were much more conservative, but that likely won't happen here.
Chinasa and Burton, who both have a size and arm length advantage over the 6-foot-2 Trojan tackles, must get off the blocks, take a containment approach when required, and get an ear-hole shot on Troy quarterback Jamie Hampton. Both Cowboy defensive ends have the ability but have yet to register a sack on the season.
Seconds in the rotation at defensive end, Jamie Blatnick and Jeremiah Price, also need to bring the heat. Realizing that Troy runs a quick delivery version of the spread that emphasizes short, quick routes, hurries will serve just a well. The Cowboys have to bring some heat.
Advantage: Troy - The Cowboys only have two sacks on the season (Chatham and Price vs. Washington State) and Troy has only allowed five sacks.
2. OSU star linebacker Andre Sexton vs. Troy quarterback Jamie Hampton
Here is another key match-up on defense for Oklahoma State. Hampton has been solid in his execution of the offense, completing nearly 68 percent of his passes for an average of 225.7 yards a game. He has six touchdown passes, but hey, he has five interceptions. There it is, the sophomore has made some mistake throws.
The Cowboys have only picked off one pass this season and that was by linebacker Justin Gent late in the game against Washington State. It is time that the OSU defense combined its new aggressive hitting approach with some good old fashioned take the ball away intellect on the defensive side of the ball.
This is a good game at home to get that down in front of a friendly crowd that should be hostile for Troy and against a younger quarterback that is, perhaps, a little green.
Advantage: Even - Troy has spit the ball up with the five interceptions and eight fumbles (only two lost). The Cowboys haven't done much on takeaways. Someone will have to win here, but we don't know who.
3. OSU wide receiver Dez Bryant vs. Troy cornerbacks Trevor Ford and Jorrick Calvin
Troy head coach Larry Blakeney pleaded guilty as charged to loading his defense with eight in the box last week at Ohio State to keep the Buckeyes from simply running over Troy. It worked as the Buckeyes ran for only 170 yards and all four of their touchdowns came on passes from first-time starting quarterback and freshman Terrelle Pryor.
Hey guess what? The Cowboys' Zac Robinson is not a first-time starter. He was a year ago in this game but not this time. Robinson can deliver and Dez Bryant can make monster plays. If Troy goes eight-man up front then Dez will be singled in coverage. Those singles will be cornerbacks Trevor Ford and Jorrick Calvin. Between them they have broken up five passes and have no interceptions. They are each listed at 6-0 in the program, but Dez is 6-2 and plays like he is 6-6. Good luck on this one.
Advantage: Dez Bryant - If the Trojans go eight man front and single coverage in the back then Bryant will be good for two quick touchdowns before Blakeney and company have second thoughts.
OSU-Troy: Three Key Matchups
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