Time to mix things up around here. This entire season Oklahoma State has been the underdogs (if not in that weeks particular matchup, then in public perception), and as fans, and as a Cowboy website, we have reacted accordingly. Most conversations, opinions, and even this sites
panty-dropping beautifully written game previews have had a "Why Oklahoma State is a better team than everyone thinks" smell to them. Well I am done with that (at least until I decide to bitch about next weeks polls), and am shifting the tone of this post to more of a "This team is soooo good, that all these things would have to go wrong for Oklahoma State to actually lose this game" ambiance. That's right... I'm mixing up the pregame preview ambiance around here (but don't worry, Cincy's post-game "pervy" ambiance ain't goin anywhere).
Now on to the things that Oklahoma State will do to lose this game.
1. The DE's won't play balanced
Oklahoma State's defensive ends have been very good this season at disrupting backfields, but they have done it by taking risks. They rush inside, outside, power, speed... whatever the O-line has been giving them, and so far this has worked because we have played pass-first teams and haven't had to worry too much about keeping containment. The only team we have played with any semblance of a dual-threat QB is A&M, and even the un-fleet-footed Jerrod Johnson was effective with the zone read a few times. Nebraska will run a form of the zone read on 430% of the plays Taylor Martinez is in at QB, and it will force Oklahoma State's front 7 (and especially the DE's) to play balanced. Can they do this or will the urge to pin their ears back and pursue lead to lots of open space?
2. Brandon Weeden will continue to over-focus on Justin Blackmon
Justin is a stud, no doubt, and who can really blame the Million Dollar Man for falling in love with watching Blackmon run his entire route, which causes those little cartoon heart bubbles to start floating in front of Weeden's face, which messes with his vision and is why he is unable to see the other three WRs that are in the pattern... but this Nebraska secondary is like nothing the MDM has seen thus far. They are extremely fast from sideline to sideline, they rarely get caught out of position, and they have this dude named Prince Amukamara. And Prince is the reason that the MDM over-focusing on Blackmon will lead to a Cowboy defeat. We have pretty much decided by now that no one guy can truly cover Blackmon one-on-one, and while that may be true, Prince will be able to contain him as well or better than anyone in college football, and the Blackshirts will still shade a safety that way. If the MDM falls into his habit of not reading the whole field quickly enough and defaulting to the "throw the jump ball to Blackmon" read, it will not bode as well as it has in previous games.
3. Dana Holgorsen doesn't feel the run game coming in the air tonight.... oh lord.
As great as the passing game is, and as fun as it is to watch, the real elite talent on this offense is in the backfield. There are a lot of teams out there running passing schemes that are as good as OSU's with QBs and lines as good as OSU's who are throwing to WR's that are as good as as OSU's, but what none of these offenses have to accompany this attack is an All American RB who is backed up by two RBs that would be starters, or at least huge contributors, on most D1 teams. I hope, and believe, that the Tech game proved the value of the running game once and for all, but if the playcalling resorts to the pass-first TOP killer that it was vs Troy and A&M, it will force the defense to log more minutes on the field and cause them to switch to the ol' 3-man-line/soft zone scheme to preserve energy. Even Taylor Martinez could complete some passes against that defense.
4. The "greatest fans in college football" will out-classy everyone in Stillwater
Photo pilfered from Corn Nation
So here is to hoping that the Pokes don't make any of the above mistakes, and continue the trend of beating teams whose opposing fanbase/media/our local media/the nation's main argument in the week leading up to the game is some form of, "Sure you are undefeated, but you haven't yet played a team that has [insert some thing this weeks opponent does well] so none of those previous wins mean shit".