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Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Lamar

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STILLWATER, Oklahoma -

This hasn't been a very fun week if you're affiliated in any way with the Oklahoma State football program.

The thing most, if not all, OSU fans want to see at this point is the team take the field, especially in a home game. And you can bet the players want nothing more than to get on the field and take out their frustrations on FCS foe Lamar.

It's time for football in Stillwater and the athletic department has said it is expecting the largest crowd in Boone Pickens Stadium history. And, given the pride within the Oklahoma State community, it's going to be a loud gathering and a difficult environment for an out-manned Cardinal squad. Here is a look at what to watch for in the Cowboys' matchup with Lamar:

 

Five Things To Watch

1. Focus

For obvious reasons this week, focus really is important. No, this particular crop of Cowboys is not implicated in the Sports Illustrated investigation but there is no denying it's on their minds. How much so could lead to a less-than-stellar outing when fans need to see something to lift their spirits. On the flip side, OSU could come out ultra-focused to make a statement and play an emotionally-fueled game to release some pent-up anger.

2. Defensive Execution

The Cowboys received rave reviews for their defensive performance in Week 1 against Mississippi State but the warm and fuzzies wore off last week after allowing 504 yards and 35 points to UTSA. Another alarming aspect of that performance was the five defensive offsides penalties, look for OSU to get this cleaned up against the Cardinals and fine tune some things before conference play.

3. Depth

The Pokes might have given up 35 points against the Roadrunners but 28 of them came in the final quarter against mostly second-and-third stringers for the Cowboys. Quality depth is paramount in a conference title run and last week provided evidence that the OSU defense still has a long way to go in developing its reserves, particularly in the secondary. Playing time is the best way to achieve this so fans should hope to see a better outing from the backups when they get another crack at it on Saturday.

4. Walsh Encore

It's unlikely J.W. Walsh will play the entire game on Saturday but it will be interesting to see how he plays in the time he's given coming off setting the OSU single-game completion percentage record last week on 24-of-27 passing in his first start of the season. Walsh has plenty of weapons at his disposal and, even against a lower-level opponent, another stellar performance would help solidify him as a passer.

5. Ben Grogan

Conference play is on the horizon and OSU has yet to connect on a field goal through its first two games. This is something that needs to happen before Big 12 play. It could make the difference in a win or a loss later on in the year and a little confidence now could go a long way for the true freshman kicker.

 

Notables

• Sept. 14 is the latest date for the Pokes to play their first game in Stillwater in the Gundy era. Also, it is the first time that OSU has had to wait until its third game of the season to play at home since 1998.

• OSU hasn't lost a home opener since 1995 and a win on Saturday would be its 18th-straight home-opening victory.

• If OSU wins, it would mark the sixth time in nine seasons that Mike Gundy has started 3-0.

• OSU would improve to 27-3 in its past 30 games against unranked opponents.

• Much talk was made of OSU's inexperienced offensive line entering the season but, through two games, OSU has allowed just one sack.

• The Cowboys are getting back to their turnover-forcing ways of 2011. The Cowboys have already intercepted four passes through two games to rank 12th nationally in turnover margin.

• The Pokes have plenty of weapons at their disposal, as evidenced by the fact that eight players have combined to score OSU's 11 touchdowns this season.

• OSU has yet to allow a point in the second or third quarters this season, having outscored Mississippi State and UTSA 42-0.

• OSU's offense continues to impress. Despite entering the year with a new coordinator, a QB derby and a host of new offensive linemen, OSU has yet to commit a turnover and leads the nation in red-zone efficiency at 100 percent.

• Oklahoma State hasn't lost to a current member of the FCS since 1948 (William & Mary).

 

Prediction:

For a few hours on Saturday Oklahoma State fans and the team will be able to escape from the ongoing SI investigation and get down to what they enjoy most – football.

Lamar opened up the season with a 75-0 victory against Oklahoma Panhandle State but then lost the following Saturday 27-14 at Louisiana Tech. If you're Lamar, you're probably hoping OSU is overlooking you and not preparing as hard as it should be against a school from a lower division.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, this probably isn't the case.

With the eye of the college football world firmly placed on Stillwater this week, here's thinking the Cowboys are out for blood and the crowd will be relentless.

Score: Oklahoma State 66-10

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