After a lackluster performance in sloppy weather last week at Kansas, Oklahoma State returns home to host Iowa State Saturday afternoon. The Cyclones, of course, are the team that knocked the Cowboys out of the national championship game a year ago with a thrilling 37-31 double-overtime victory.
The Cowboy Radio Network’s pregame show revealed that J.W. Walsh will start at quarterback, while Tracy Moore (ankle) and Isaiah Anderson (finger) are both out. Walsh struggled throwing the ball downfield last week against KU, and it certainly didn’t help that two of his top targets were missing for much of the contest. Without the two senior leaders on the outside, guys like Josh Stewart, Blake Jackson, Charlie Moore — and possibly a youngster like Austin Hays — will need to step up.
Does Joseph Randle bounce back?
Bounce back from a bad game last week, and bounce back from a bad performance against Iowa State last season. KU was the first team to slow Randle down in 2012, limiting him to just 80 yards on 29 carries. And last season in Ames, Randle fumbled twice and was benched for much of the second half, which took one of OSU’s most dynamic weapons off the field on the night when the 2011 edition of the offense sputtered the most.
Is “revenge” a factor?
This was a hot topic with player interviews this week, and it seemed to depend on who you asked. It’s sure to be an emotionally charged atmosphere, with it also being Homecoming. That can work in favor of the Pokes, or against them.
Spoiler: Considering OSU went 0-for-3 on these last week, we’re going with the same goals as last week.
Again, the Cowboys need to take advantage of this crowd environment and try to make an early statement against a solid ISU defense. The first quarter against KU last week was scoreless.
Run the ball
KU came into the OSU game giving up more than 217 rushing yards per game, and shut down Randle by stacking the box and relying on the corners to play 1-on-1 coverage against the inaccurate arm of Walsh. It worked. ISU is sure to use a similar defensive strategy, especially with the stout linebacker duo of Jake Knott and A.J. Klein. ISU ranks 36th in the nation against the run, giving up 126 yards per game, so it won’t be an easy task to pound the ball. Also, will/how much do we see Jeremy Smith, who was limited to one carry last week after apparently re-tweaking his ankle he hurt against Texas.
Force three turnovers
At what point do we call this a troubling trend and just say that this OSU defense simply isn’t good at forcing turnovers this season? The Cowboys have just four so far in 2012, which is tied for 116th in the nation, including zero against the Jayhawks last week. But against a young and sometimes erratic QB in Jared Barnett, maybe this is when guys like Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown get going.
Uniform prediction: Orange helmet, orange jersey, orange pants
I’m cheating because the all-orange combo has been revealed — sort of. I did predict this on Tuesday. Just sayin’. This is the debut of the orange helmets, which feature Pistol Pete rather than the OSU logo on the side. With orange now a helmet option, that gives OSU 64 possible uniform combos.
Final score prediction: OSU 28, Iowa State 26
With Walsh starting, I’m really tempted to switch and pick ISU. I think the Cyclone defense is really going to give Walsh trouble. But I’ll stick with my prediction for the paper, mostly because of the dynamite special teams weapon that Quinn Sharp is. Maybe he’ll get a chance to drill the game-winner after last year’s key miss?