OSU-Colorado: Key Matchups & Prediction

Robert Allen's key matchups and prediction for Thursday night's nationally televised game (ESPN) between the 12th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Colorado Buffaloes at Boone Pickens Stadium.

1. OSU offensive line vs. Colorado defensive front
Colorado is going to blitz, you can bank on it. The Oklahoma State offensive line with Russell Okung, Noah Franklin, Andrew Lewis, Lane Taylor, and now Andrew Mitchell filling in for Brady Bond must adapt and adjust and get the Buffs front blocked. The Cowboys may be protecting a first-time starting quarterback in Alex Cate, if Zac Robinson is not deemed ready to start.

Colorado is young up front with a junior, a sophomore, a redshirt freshman and a true freshman starting on the line. However, the linebackers are veterans with Jeff Smart and Marcus Burton being seniors and good players, along with junior B.J. Beatty at the strongside backer.

The Buffs have forced turnovers and have created some havoc, but they also have allowed an average of 156 yards a game rushing and 374 yards on the whole, along with nearly 29 points a game. Oklahoma State averages 33.1 points a game.

It's time to exploit the Buffs defense. Keith Toston and Kendall Hunter must run and run a lot, and the passing game needs to click. Blocking and balance are the offensive watch words for Thursday night.

Edge: OSU

2. OSU linebackers vs. Colorado running back Rodney Stewart
You want to know why Colorado is 3-7 overall and 2-4 in the conference? Try rushing offense. Despite recent history in the league, you still have to run to win in the Big 12 and Colorado is 11th in rushing offense with an average of 90.8 yards a game, and only Texas Tech is trailing them in 12th.

It is no fault of Rodney Stewart. The sophomore back ran off California "hot shot" Derrick Scott with his performance. Stewart, who has been coined "Speedy" by Colorado play-by-play man Mark Johnson, is averaging 74.8 yards a game. He has nine rushing touchdowns.

Those numbers need not grow Thursday tonight as Stewart needs to have plenty of face to face encounters with the likes of Donald Booker, Andre Sexton, and Patrick Lavine, who does make tackles when he is not swiping opposing passes. If the Cowboys will hold Stewart to his average or below the Colorado will lack the needed balance and the Cowboys can tee off some and have some fun.

Edge: OSU

3. OSU seniors vs. Colorado seniors
OK, what the heck does this matchup mean? This is senior night for 22 Oklahoma State seniors, including the likes of longtime starters Andre Sexton, Russell Okung, Patrick Lavine, Perrish Cox, Andrew Lewis, Brady Bond, Terrance Anderson, Derek Burton, DeMarcus Conner, and Keith Toston.

These guys have a lot to play for besides their final home game in their career. We are talking an 11-win season, most ever at Oklahoma State, and a BCS bowl bid.

Colorado has tight end Riar Geer, fullback Jake Behrens, cornerback Cha'pelle Brown, strong safety Benjamin Burney, punter Matt DiLallo, and linebackers Marcus Burton and Jeff Smart that start and now their senior season is resigned to trying to play spoiler for Oklahoma State and Nebraska.

A couple of wills at work here. The Cowboys have to have the stronger will. They have to lead their team better and more effectively than Colorado. They have to.

Edge: OSU

PREDICTION Oh the variables here. You have to start with who will play at quarterback as Zac Robinson has practiced and been involved but there is a good chance he starts this one over on the sidelines and Alex Cate would be the guy. If Cate gets his big chance, he will need to deliver as Brandon Weeden and/or Robinson would be waiting in the wings. There is so much to play for. Colorado likes to blitz and force the issue and Oklahoma State has the weapons to make the Buffs pay for their aggressiveness. It simply comes down to team speed and Oklahoma State has more of it on both sides of the ball. That tells me if the Cowboys execute and take care of the football and if they make a the fewest mistakes, then Oklahoma State wins the game. I have the Cowboys winning it 35-10 with at least one special teams or defensive touchdown during the evening.


Big 12 Predictions
This Week's Games
Oklahoma 17, @Texas Tech 14
@Texas 41, Kansas 20
@Missouri 31, Iowa State 20
@Texas A&M 28, Baylor 27
@Nebraska 30, Kansas State 21

Last Week's Games
@Kansas State 26, Missouri 20
Nebraska 17, @Kansas 9
Texas 45, @Baylor 14
@Iowa State 24, Colorado 13
@Oklahoma 38, Texas A&M 21
@Oklahoma State 28, Texas Tech 20

Season Record
Straight: 67-24
ATS: 46-33-1
Note: Games that involved FCS teams did not have lines

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