OSU-Houston: Key Matchups & Prediction

Robert Allen offers his key matchups and prediction for Saturday's game between the fifth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and Houston at Boone Pickens Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. (Central time).

1. OKlahoma State offensive tackles Brady Bond and Russell Okung
vs. Houston defensive ends Zeke Riser and Radermon Scypion
The reason this matchup becomes key is that those two defensive ends for Houston are true freshmen and that is like feeding sacrificial lambs to the lions with the lions being experienced starters Okung and Bond. To top that off the Cougars two second-team defensive tackles, of which they will have to rotate in, are freshmen.

Oklahoma State ran for 379 yards last season and averaged 7.4 yards a carry rushing. That was against a more experienced defensive crew from Houston, so the thought here is that Oklahoma State may be able to run for whatever they want. To reinforce that last week FCS squad Northwestern State averaged more than four yards a rush not counting sacks and tackles for loss.

Edge: Big to Oklahoma State and Okung and Bond

2. Oklahoma State running backs vs. Houston linebackers If the offensive line has the Houston defensive line overmatched then you can guess that they will get some people out on the Cougars linebackers which include Matt Nicholson on the strong side, C.J. Cavness on the weak side, and an undersized Marcus McGraw in the middle.

Last season the Cowboys ran for 379 yards and you can break that down to Kendall Hunter with 22 carries for 210 yards, Keith Toston eight carries for 78 yards, and Beau Johnson with 10 carries for 66 yards. Zac Robinson had 27 yards rushing.

Expecting the Cowboys not to expose Zac as much, and with the linebackers drawing some attention from the offensive line and the backs getting a head start, you could see three, even four backs go over 100 yards in the game. Hunter, Toston, and Johnson could for sure after almost doing it a year ago.

Edge: Big to Oklahoma State and Hunter, Toston, and Johnson

3. Houston quarterback Case Keenum
vs. Oklahoma State star linebacker Andre Sexton
We're not saying that Sexton will shadow Keenum, although it wouldn't hurt if he did, and it might be good strategy. However, Sexton is the leader and major communicator on the defensive side of the ball.

Sexton is a big film study guy and will likely be good at reading and hopefully responding. The tough aspect is that Keenum can quickly become a freelancer. He does that often and his receivers seem to know where he wants them to be. That kind of teamwork is very difficult to defend.

Edge: Moderately to Keenum and Houston

OSU-Houston Prediction
Remember, I am usually a Nervous Ninnie who warns of an upset and how dangerous an underdog team is. I predicted Houston would give OSU all the Cowboys wanted last season and the Cougars did lead at halftime. This year I'm not so nervous.

The Cougar defense and their extreme youth is a concern for Houston. Running yards control football games, while passing yards, much of the time, are great highlights. I think the Cowboys offense controls the game and pays the defense back for its help against Georgia.

You would truly not mind if that was the way it breaks all season long. Of course, you do need those games, like Texas and Oklahoma, where you'd like both sides of the ball and special teams to all be hitting big licks. Cowboys go 2-0 here and that is a very good start.

OSU 49, Houston 28

Big 12 Predictions
@Toledo 23, Colorado 21

Iowa 28, @Iowa State 20
@Nebraska 34, Arkansas State 14
Texas 49, @Wyoming 7
Kansas State 24, @ULL 6
@Missouri 35, Bowling Green 10
@Oklahoma 63, Idaho State 0
@Texas Tech 38, Rice 17
Kansas 27, @UTEP 20

Last Week's Predictions
OSU 34, Georgia 31 (OSU won 24-10)

Other Big 12 Games
@Iowa State 23, North Dakota State 14 (Iowa State won 34-17)

Baylor 28, @Wake Forest 27 (Baylor won 24-21)
Illinois 21 ,Missouri 20 @St.Louis (Missouri won 37-9)
@Kansas 56, No.Colorado 6 (Kansas won 49-3)
@Nebraska 35, Florida Atlantic 21 (Nebraska won 49-3)
Oklahoma 48, BYU 20 @Arlington (BYU won 14-13)
@Texas 58, Louisiana-Monroe 0 (Texas won 59-20)
New Mexico 23, @Texas A&M 21 (A&M won 41-6)
@Texas Tech 70, North Dakota 10 (Tech won 37-13)
@Kansas State 4,5 UMass 14 (Kansas State won 21-17)

Season Record
Straight: 8-4
ATS: 2-4

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