Coming off its most complete performance of the season, a 31-10 Homecoming victory over Iowa State, Oklahoma State welcomes Big 12 newcomer to Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Lunt or Chelf?
Might as well make the quarterback carousel a weekly question. With backup-turned-starter J.W. Walsh out for the season with a knee injury, is starter Wes Lunt ready to return from his knee/ankle injury? Or does redshirt junior Clint Chelf, who began fall camp as the No. 3 quarterback, get the nod? My gut says Lunt returns, but with how unstable the QB position has been this season, nothing would surprise me.
Can Joseph Randle run on TCU’s defense?
The matchup to watch, in my mind. TCU’s rush defense and OSU’s rushing attack both rank in the top 10 in the nation. As they say, something’s got to give. OSU running backs coach Jemal Singleton told me earlier this week that the Cowboys will have to “meet strength with strength” and settle for those methodical 3-, 4- and 5-yard carries in hopes of being able to pop a big one, like that 62-yard run Randle ripped off against ISU.
Which secondary limits the big play?
A much-maligned OSU secondary has been much better the past two weeks, but part of that can likely be attributed to the fact that Kansas and ISU don’t exactly sport the Big 12′s most potent passing offenses. And even against ISU, the Cowboys gave up long passes of 35 and 42 yards (though Brodrick Brown had excellent coverage on the 35-yarder). TCU’s secondary has also given up several big plays this season. Limiting those will be key for both teams in an even matchup.
Force three turnovers
Again, this will continue to be the goal until the Cowboys accomplish it. OSU took a positive step in that direction against ISU, forcing three turnovers in Cyclone territory in the third quarter. And it nearly had another early in the game, but Lyndell Johnson and Daytawion Lowe knocked the ball away from each other. Does that game start the turnover trend?
Get pressure on the QB
As I mentioned earlier this week, perhaps the most underrated stat of the ISU game was that the Cowboys got seven quarterback hurries. They only had three tackles for loss and one sack, but that constant pressure forced Jared Barnett (and Steele Jantz late) out of the pocket and to make poor throws. Trevone Boykin is also a mobile quarterback, and a young one. A pass rush could certainly impact his decision-making.
Win special teams
Usually the edge goes to the Cowboys here because of Quinn Sharp and Justin Gilbert, but TCU sports two special teams weapons as well. Jaden Oberkrom has made 14-of-16 field goals this season, while returner Skye Dawson has track speed. As the cliche goes, an even game like this could come down to special teams.
Uniform prediction: Black helmet, gray jersey, black pants
Whenever the “new” gray jerseys come out, I just hope we can see the numbers better. Please.
Final score prediction: OSU 28, TCU 23
This could classify as a must-win for both clubs, with tough schedules down the stretch ahead. I like the Cowboys at home in this game, especially with TCU coming off an emotional triple-overtime loss. Lunt likely returns at QB, but the defense (keep an eye on Johnson) makes the big play that decides the game.