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Cowboy Football: OSU vs. Kansas State Preview, Prediction

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STILLWATER, Oklahoma -

The Cowboys are out to prove last Saturday was an aberration, not a foreshadowing of things to come when Kansas State travels to Stillwater for a 2:30 p.m. showdown on Saturday. Here is a preview and prediction for the matchup:

 

Three Things To Watch

1) Bouncing Back

Even though Kansas State is not coming to Stillwater with the same caliber squad it has fielded the past two years, the Wildcats are certainly not devoid of talent and it's never wise to play a Bill Snyder-coached team without an established identity and approach of your own. This is a game the Cowboys could lose if they fail to respond from Saturday's shocker at West Virginia. OSU needs to execute in all facets, particularly in efficiency and ball protection, and put the Mountaineer debacle behind it. If Oklahoma State still deserves to be in the Big 12 title discussion, it needs to start proving it on Saturday.

2) Cowboy ground game

We're a third of the way through the season and OSU's leading rusher is still J.W. Walsh. There's no problem with a quarterback leading your team in rushing if you're fielding a successful ground game, but that has not been the case for the Pokes save for the Mississippi State game. OSU needs more from Jeremy Smith fast or the offensive staff should take a long, hard look at Desmond Roland, who fits the team's offensive style more than Smith does and has been more explosive in his limited touches.

3) Field position

A large part of the Cowboys' downfall at West Virginia was a result of poor field position. The defense stood its ground except when its back was already against the wall as a result of three costly turnovers and two atrocious punts of 13 and 16 yards. Oklahoma State's defense has given up points on 12 possessions this year, but four of those opponent scoring drives yielded less than 20 yards of offense. Two of those drives came in the loss to WVU.

 

Notables

• The Cowboy defense has been stout and, despite the third-unit allowing 28 fourth-quarter points to UTSA and the offense and special teams routinely putting the defense in terrible situations against WVU, OSU still ranks 28th nationally in points allowed at 17.8 per game.

• A Cowboy victory would mark their fourth in the past five meetings with K-State. The lone loss came last season in Manhattan.

• A win would make OSU 7-1 following a loss since the 2010 season.

• OSU ranks in the top 25 nationally in run defense (23rd at 108.8 per game), pass efficiency defense (19th at 104.85), third-down defense (24th at 30.7 percent) and red zone defense (19th at 69.2 percent).

• An OSU victory would improve the Pokes to 14-1 in Boone Pickens Stadium since the start of the 2011 season.

• Despite the offensive struggles at West Virginia, Oklahoma State's nation-leading streak is still alive with 26-consecutive games with at least one scoring drive lasting two minutes or less. OSU has achieved this in 42 of its past 43 games.

• OSU might not be achieving balance in production on offense, but there is balance in play calling. Through four games, Oklahoma State has 159 passing attempts and 150 rush attempts. OSU also has 11 TD passes and 10 TD runs.

• The Cowboys picked a bad time for their 100-percent red-zone rate to come to an end with missed game-tying field goal at West Virginia but the Pokes still lead the nation in red-zone efficiency, coming in at 93.75 percent.

 

Prediction

The Cowboys (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) need to bounce back in a big way to prove they are still a threat to win the Big 12 title and a struggling K-State (2-2, 0-1) is trying to prove it is still a team to be reckoned with in league play. It sets up what should be an exciting tilt between the past two conference champions, but the Pokes should have the upper hand in this one and seldom slip up in Stillwater.

Score: Oklahoma State 35-24

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