We wrap up the season preview with the final game on the schedule, when Kansas rolls into Stillwater to close out the 2017 regular season.
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK
When: Saturday, November 25, TBD
2016: 2-10, 1-8 (Big 12)
Key Returners: DE Dorance Armstrong; WR Steven Sims, DT Daniel Wise, SS Mike Lee
Key Losses: QB Montell Cozart (transferred), OT D’Andre Banks
Everyone looks forward to Thanksgiving Weekend for time spent with family and friends complete with loads of food and plenty of football, especially rivalry games. For some time, Oklahoma State fans have enjoyed Bedlam festivities during the holiday season, but this year will mark a change in the schedule as the Cowboys welcome Kansas.
Not exactly a marquee matchup on paper. But, lest we forget that anything can happen any given Saturday (or Friday), this lowly program celebrated a conference win over Texas last year, which cost a Longhorn coach his job and launched a thousand memes for Big 12 football fans to enjoy.
This is not necessarily the Kansas we have come to know and loathe, but do the Pokes have anything to fear from the Jayhawks?
Here’s what we know about this season-ending matchup:
OSU visited Lawrence and handed the Jayhawks a 44-20 loss, part of a 9-game losing streak for KU. But, the lead was only four points late in the third quarter, adding a little tension to Orange Country. Going further back in this matchup, Kansas hasn’t won against the Cowboys since the 2007 season that ended with an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
Players to Watch
In David Beatty’s third year at the helm, Kansas will lean heavily on a fresh influx of JUCO and other transfers as it attempts to take another step toward legitimacy in the conference. The biggest question surrounds the quarterbacks, especially after Montell Cozart decided to transfer out the program. Redshirt sophomore Carter Stanley handled the starts toward the end of last year, but JUCO addition Peyton Bender has brought out an all out competition to the position. Once Beatty settles on a starter the next issue is to protect him (and keep him from turning the ball over).
Moving outside, Bender and Stanley will have a capable target in Steven Sims, Jr., who caught seven touchdowns last season and torched both TCU and West Virginia for more than 100 yards apiece. Just like the Cowboys, Kansas’ best group is the receiver corps, though the dismissal of LaQuvionte Gonzalez could certainly hurt. Look for junior Jeremiah Booker to step in and produce opposite Sims.
Kansas has struggled to keep teams off the board long enough for the offense to muster up an attack, which has made it difficult to stay competitive in games. Having playmakers helps, but the Jayhawks haven’t been able to develop the multitude of players it needs to fill the holes and climb out of the conference cellar.
This year, the mantle rests up front on junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong and fellow junior defensive tackle Daniel Wise. The pair form the teeth of the KU defense and must slow the run and attack the opposing quarterback if the Jayhawks are to compete in the Big 12. Armstrong was the bright spot in Lawrence last year, notching 56 tackles and 10 sacks. Behind them, all the talk surrounds sophomore safety Mike Lee’s continued emergence.
What to Expect
With only nine victories against FBS opponents since a 5-0 start to the 2009 campaign, Kansas has been a laughing stock for several years now as it cycled through coaches and failed to achieve or sustain any semblance of success. There’s nothing to indicate this year should be drastically different, but with those transfers and having landed new offensive coordinator acquisition Doug Meacham from TCU, Kansas should expect to field a better, more competitive team that could rise a couple of rungs up the conference ladder.
If all goes according to plan, the Cowboys will be riding toward a berth in the freshly-reborn Big 12 Conference Championship Game. Should that plan come to fruition, this would serve as the last hurdle toward bigger and better things. Teams have overlooked such games before. OSU will benefit from having a full season of tape to comb through--and reminders of the Ames trip in 2011--to better prepare for whatever Kansas will throw at it.
While we won’t call it a trap game, it doesn’t look to be a dangerous proposition considering the opponent, the Cowboy firepower and the venue (Boone Pickens Stadium). OSU should be able to flex its muscles in this final opportunity to impress voters and College Football Playoff committee members before conference championships are played.
The Jayhawks might have a little to play for by this time with hopes of moving the program forward and building on last season’s lone conference victory. The possibility of forcing Texas Tech or Iowa State into the cellar while on the road against a (hopefully) highly-ranked opponent may give Kansas all the incentive it needs to compete.
However, that drive only pushes you so far, and this one looks like it should be in OSU’s hands quickly as the Pokes push toward an (illustrious?) Big 12 title shot.
Final Score Prediction:
OSU record through week 11: 11-0, 8-0 Big 12
Well, there you have it. The Cowboys Ride For Free staff is predicting a perfect regular season. Safe to say we have all bought into the hype and expect a lot from this year's team. Now all we can do is watch and see how our predictions pan out.