It was 2011 when many Cowboy fans were last worried about this Iowa State team. Since, it's been quite simple really. Oklahoma State has outscored Iowa State 126-57, or an average of 42-19 in the three games between then and now. So Gundy and Co., have found out how to beat the Cyclones, but this years team is different.
1) Stop The Run
Oklahoma State is the No. 2 rush defense in the Big 12, allowing 147 yards per game and about 3.5 yards per carry. Today, they'll face the No. 3 rusher in the conference in Mike Warren. Warren has 997 yards while averaging 5.8 yards a carry. The guy is a force and he's only a freshman. If the Cowboys can bottle him up, they'll be that much closer to beating the Cyclones.
2) Force Lanning To Throw
Lanning is having a pretty good year. However, if the Cowboys can find a way to force the young sophomore to put the team on his back, there may be a few mistakes. In his last three games, he has five touchdowns and only one interception, but in the last two games his completion percentage is only around 50 percent. If the Cowboys can turn those incompletions into interceptions, it could be a long day.
3) Keep The Crowd Out
It's crazy how Ames, Iowa, isn't home to a top 25 team but the fans act as if they are. It's amazing too. Regardless of the product on the field, ISU has found a way to keep the fans in the game for the past few years. Mason Rudolph and the Oklahoma State offense need to find a way to keep this great crowd out of it early. If they hang around, that's when it'll get ugly.
4) Keep J.W. Walsh As The Red Zone Guy
Don't get me wrong, I like J.W. as much as the next guy. But the only times this year we've seen him play when it's not in the red zone were A) when OSU was up a lot of points B) Rudolph is hurt/not playing well or C) The offense isn't producing well without him. Only one of those choices is preferable. The Cowboys need Walsh to produce in most games, but they don't need him to win, we saw that last week. Keeping Walsh as the finisher is probably the most preferable way for the Pokes to win.
5) Sack Joel Lanning
In the short time that Lanning has been the guy, he's been sacked 12 times. Rudolph has been sacked 18 times the whole year. If the Cowboys can continue to get to the quarterback with Ogbah and Trace Clark - improving the confidence of Clark specifically - the next two games could be much easier for the now weaker defensive line.
6) Don't think about 2011
It's a different team. Different year. There are only two players remaining on the OSU team that played that ISU team. Iowa State is the ninth scoring offense in the conference, eighth defense, and ninth worst pass defense. This should be a game the Cowboys should be able to run away with. The only things getting in their way or turning the ball over, keeping the crowd in it and allowing a ISU team confidence.