It’s week four of the post where analysis matters and the points don’t (but we might change that!)
Here’s the rules: Every week, each writer picks the player they think will be the MVP on offense, defense, and special teams for OSU and their opponent. If a player has the best game out of those chosen, the writer who picked him gets a point. We’ll keep track of the points through the season.
Here are the standings after week two:
Cade - 11 points
Phillip - 11 points
Christopher - 10 points
Joel - 9 points
Dustin - 8 points
So let’s get to this week’s match-up between our beloved Cowboys and the Longhorns.
O - Rennie Childs | D - Jordan Burton | ST - Zach Sinor
Offense: I’m tempted to go with Justice Hill, who proved he should be the starter last week against Baylor. However, I think if he has even one lost fumble, Gundy will yank him for Childs. Not that Child’s has been a slouch. He’s averaging 4.9 yards a carry so far this season. I’m going out on a limb here with the backup running back, but that’s the benefit of being tied for the lead in points, I can gamble a little bit.
Defense: For one, I’m riding the hot hand with Burton. He’s won the defensive point a couple times now. It doesn’t help that he’s the Cowboys stats leader on defense. I’m expecting him to have another good game this week, especially with Texas missing one of their starting O-Linemen.
Special Teams: I don’t trust Grogan this season. He’s 5 of 7 through 4 games, which isn’t bad. However, he’s 2-4 in the last 2 games missing a 44 and 49 yarder. I have to wonder who long it will be before Gundy has Ammendola kicking the longer yardage field goals.
O - Tyrone Swoopes | D - Breckyn Hager | ST - Michael Dickson
Offense: I realize we have the #3 rushing defense in the Big 12. It’s not Texas’ running backs I’m as worried about, it’s their running quarterback. The “18-Wheeler” package reminds me a lot of things we did with J.W. Walsh, and OU’s “Belldozer”. Walsh was effective. Blake Bell was effective. Swoopes has been effective.
Defense: Hager is third on the team in total tackles. However, it’s his ability to get into the backfield that concerns me. he has 2.5 tackles-for-a-loss through three games and two sacks. The OSU offensive line is getting better, but they will have a real test against a solid Texas defense. I have a feeling Hager is going to find his way into the backfield a few times on Saturday.
Special Teams: Punter Michael Dickson is leading the Big 12, averaging over 50 yards a punt this season. That’s almost 5 yards more than the next guy. He has nine punts over 50 yards, including one for 64. That’s the second longest by anyone in the league this year. OSU could be dealing with bad field position all day Saturday.
O - Mason Rudolph | D - Ramon Richards | ST - Ben Grogan
Offense: Expecting some ground-breaking analysis here? Well, you shouldn’t. Oklahoma State will throw the ball, throw the ball, and throw it some more on Saturday. I expect them to attack the UT secondary relentlessly, and therefore I will take the quarterback for the Pokes.
Defense: Ramon Richards had a poor game against Baylor, to say the least. Texas loves to throw those little short comeback routes, and Richards is a gambler. He may get burnt on one of those, but if he hauls one in, he may take it the distance. I won’t be surprised to see him make a big play on Saturday.
Special Teams: Take. The. Kicker.
O - D’onta Foreman | D - Malik Jefferson | ST - Trent Domingue
Offense: I’m secretly praying that I lose here. If D’Onta Foreman takes home the points in this round, then OSU is screwed. I think if they find success running the ball, it’ll be behind him and Chris Warren. Scary thought, but i’ll take Foreman here.
Defense: Jeeze, guys ... Real creative here. Did everyone pick Malik Jefferson? No? If you didn’t, you should’ve. Jefferson is always all over the field, and he will find his way into quite a few plays in this game. OSU wants to be able to establish the running game, but Jefferson will have a say in it.
Special Teams: Take the kicker. This one is actually pretty good, so I feel pretty solid about this pick. I’ll take the points any way I can get them.
O – Mason Rudolph | D – Jordan Sterns | ST - Ben Grogan
Offense: The Longhorn defense has given up an average of 235.7 yards per game through the air to the three opponents they’ve faced so far this year, including 396 yards to Davis Webb of Cal in their most recent matchup. I think Rudolph has gotten progressively more accurate the past three weeks, and I see that trend continuing against Texas. I think QB1 throws for over 300 yards and a couple of touchdowns, so he gets my pick for offensive fantasy player this week.
Defense: Sterns will be my choice for the second week in a row. He’s been making plays both stopping the run and in the passing game. His 27 total tackles are second on the team and he’s also had three passes defended. He played well against Baylor, and since UT runs a similar style of offense, I see him putting on another solid performance.
Special Teams: I’m picking Grogan again here, but if he doesn’t get the point this week, I may have to lay off picking him for a while. There seems to be something mentally going on for anything around 45 yards or longer. He’s had the distance, but hasn’t been able to put it through the uprights. I have faith in him though, and I think he can get the point this week.
O – Shane Buechele | D – Malik Jefferson| ST – Trent Domingue
Offense: The Cowboy defense has given up 387, 237 and 368 passing yards to the three FBS quarterbacks they’ve face this season. Buechele didn’t have a great game against Cal, but he threw for 280 against Notre Dame and 244 against UTEP. Oklahoma State was able to slow down Baylor’s powerful running game, and I could see the Cowboys’ stifling the Longhorn rushing attack too. This means that Texas will probably look to air it out, and I think OSU will give up at least a few big plays to UT. This sets up for Buechele to have a decent day against the Pokes.
Defense: Jefferson is an absolute beast at linebacker for Texas. At 6’3, 238, the former Big 12 Freshman of the Year has been all over the place for the Longhorn defense. He’s recorded 16 total tackles, 12 of them solo, along with one sack and he’s played very well in pass coverage. Jefferson was one of the top overall recruits coming out of high school and held an offer from Oklahoma state. Mike Gundy has taken notice of Jefferson’s performance:
Gundy on Malik Jefferson: "He's lived up to being a five star player."— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) September 26, 2016
The Cowboys are aware of Jefferson and will be scheming to account for him, but the young linebacker will find a way to be involved in almost every play.
Special Teams: The graduate transfer from LSU is a former Lou Groza award semifinalist. He’s hit on 5 of 7 field goals so far this year. I think Domingue is the best option special teams option for the Longhorns.
O - Mason Rudolph | D - Vincent Taylor | S - Ben Grogan
Offense: Even if the Cowboys can duplicate the running game success from last week, it's still going to come down to Rudolph throwing the ball. I think every team OSU faces going forward is going to look at how Baylor schemed against James Washington. Until Marcel Ateman returns, that's probably the right play. That means Rudolph will spread the ball around, limiting the value of any one receiver and leaving him as the clear MVP.
Defense: The defensive line will need to repeat their performance from a week ago and limit the Longhorns' ground game while also getting pressure on Buechele. It's a tall order, but in Vincent we trust.
Special Teams: Grogan is the Longhorn killer. Well, him and their own punter. I can't pick Texas' punter here, can I? No? Okay, then it's Grogan.
O - Shane Buechele | D - Anthony Wheeler | S - Trent Domingue
Offense: Buechele is the starting QB against the Cowboys defense. Until further notice (probably the Iowa State game), I'm taking the opposing team's starting QB against this defense. Also, they have several guys involved in the passing game and multiple backs who get carries in the running game. It was tempting to go with Swoopes because I do think he will be pivotal, but the guy throwing the ball against the Cowboy secondary is just too enticing right now
Defense: Malik Jefferson gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so, but Anthony Wheeler has played really well so far this season. He leads the team in solo tackles and total tackles and had a standout game against Cal, totaling 11 tackles
Special Teams: The transfer kicker from the school formerly known as LeSU is 5/7 on the season, having missed two long attempts against Cal two weeks ago. If the Cowboys can limit the effectiveness of the 18-Wheeler package, Domingue could have several attempts on Saturday.
Well after 0 points last week, it's time to rebound.
O - Mason Rudolph | D - Jordan Burton | S - Matt Amendola
Offense: Mason had a great game last week. He'll look to build off of it and carve up the Texas defense that has not defended the pass well this year so far.
Defense: Jordan Burton is having a great year so far. He'll look to be a run stopper this week.
Special Teams: Anything longer than 45 looks to be out of range for Grogan. Enter Ammendola, who has a stronger leg, and has made a 53 yarder this year. I hope he gets another opportunity this week.
O - Chris Warren | D - Malik Jefferson | S - Trent Domingue
Offense: OSU has not seen a big, physical back like Warren yet. He'll try and have a big day against a stout OSU run defense.
Defense: he's the face of the Texas defense so this was an easy pick.
Special Teams: Because the kicker SHOULD get me points this week.