OSU-Missouri: Key Matchups & Prediction

Robert Allen offers his key matchups and prediction for Saturday's nationally televised game (ESPN2) between the 16th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Missouri Tigers at Boone Pickens Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. (Central time)

1. OSU's quarterback Zac Robinson
vs. Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon
First, I think Zac Robinson is sitting on a big game. An ultra-competitor, Robinson may be at ease following the passing of his grandfather Frank Robinson. Frank Robinson was an outstanding man that was quite an influence on Zac and the entire Robinson clan. Zac had visited his grandfather often during his ongoing battle with brain cancer.

Robinson is the type of young man that is likely to dedicate his efforts to his grandfather and would likely do so without telling anyone. The senior quarterback is also much more comfortable with his compliment of receivers following the A&M win. Look for Robinson to play large.

Weatherspoon is one of the best in the Big 12 and the nation. As weakside linebacker he won't be staring Robinson down, but he will be involved in every scheme the Tigers use on defense. He can be a one-man wrecking crew at anytime on defense.

Advantage: Too close to call, although we think Robinson comes out in charge at some point.

2. Missouri wide receivers vs. OSU defensive backs
We think the OSU secondary is getting better all the time and with Perrish Cox back at corner and all four of the top safeties healthy they are much better.

However, the Missouri wide receivers are very solid. The Tigers are 18th in the nation in passing offense averaging 274.8 yards per game while the Cowboys have allowed 241.2 yards per game through the air making them 89th in pass defense. That might be a little misleading as Oklahoma State has improved in that area recently.

The size of Danario Alexander and the speed of Jared Perry are concerns. The Cowboy safeties do like to knock heads off and blow up receivers crossing the middle, which Missouri will do some.

This matchup could really go a long way toward determining the outcome as the Tigers have struggled in running the football. Another difference maker here will be the mobility of Mizzou quarterback Blane Gabbert, who has a sprained ankle from the Nebraska game, and the OSU defensive front which is hoping to put Gabbert on his back.

Advantage: Slight to Missouri but if the pass rush works then this could go strong to OSU with a few turnovers included.

3. OSU special teams vs. Missouri special teams
Missouri's secret weapon is Jake Harry, a left-footed rugby style punter, as the Tigers are number two in the nation in net punting. The Cowboys have a secret weapon they used in practice to counter Harry. Teams have had a hard time fielding his punts. Punts from a lefty spin and move differently. OSU has a walkon left-footed punter and he has worked hard all week punting to the Cowboys returners. The Cowboys will field punts.

Now what does Missouri do on kickoffs? Kick it deep to Perrish Cox or pooch it and give up the field position? Another concern is field goal kicking as Grant Ressell has been virtually perfect for Missouri. Dan Bailey can't miss on Saturday as he may need to keep pace. Remember that Quinn Sharp can punt too and he can kickoff with touchbacks.

Advantage: Cowboys will win the special teams.

Predictions
I like the Cowboys to win. I actually think it will be more comfortable than that through most of the game. Look for a big game from Robinson and one of the best efforts this season out of the OSU defense. To me the biggest edge for the Cowboys is in the running game. On offense I believe the Cowboys will run the ball and run it well. On defense I think Missouri's struggles in running the football will continue.
Oklahoma State 37, Missouri 28

This Week's Games
Texas 28, Oklahoma 16 @Dallas
Texas Tech 45, @Nebraska 20
Kansas 41, @Colorado 27
Texas A&M 38, @Kansas State 17
Baylor 20, @Iowa State 17

Last Week's Games
Thursday
@Missouri 23, Nebraska 20

Saturday Oklahoma State 31, @Texas A&M 20
@Kansas 34, Iowa State 13
@Oklahoma 27, Baylor 20
@Texas Tech 41, Kansas State 21
@Texas 52, Colorado 14

Season Record
Straight: 44-11
ATS: 27-16-1
Note: Games involving FCS teams do not have lines

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