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OSU Insider: Cowboys have edge over Arizona

Matchups lean heavy in Oklahoma State's favor.
by John Helsley Published: September 4, 2011

Once a highly anticipated showdown, pitting power conference squads and pairing Mike Stoops and Stillwater, Oklahoma State-Arizona just doesn't conjure the same cool factor.

Remember the Alamo Bowl? Yeah, couldn't resist.

The teams played just nine months ago in San Antonio, with the entertainment value significantly one-sided for Cowboys fans, who soaked up the comfortable 36-10 win.

What suggests this meeting – 7 p.m. Thursday at Boone Pickens Stadium – will be any different?

Maybe by Thursday, realignment revelations will have created a new Pac-16 rivalry, returning the juice that has so far been missing from this clash. Or maybe Stoops will spout off something fun.

And it may take that, as the key matchups – again – seem to lean, often heavily, OSU's way.

Strength vs. Strength

Arizona's Nick Foles and Juron Criner vs. the OSU pass defense.

Foles and Criner were considered one of the elite pass-and-catch duos in the country a year ago; and are again. But that tandem never got untracked against the Cowboys in San Antonio. Criner caught but one pass for one yard. Foles did complete 32 of 50 throws for 280 yards, but was picked off three times. Foles-to-Criner did work wonderfully in UA's opening 41-10 romp past Northern Arizona, good for six catches, 151 yards and a score.

OSU's front four appears to be improved and the veteran secondary is packed with playmakers. Watch Criner and Cowboys corner Justin Gilbert under the microscope.

Edge: Cowboys

Weakness vs. Weakness

Arizona's offensive line vs. OSU's defensive line.

Who wins this aspect – more specifically the pass rush – plays heavily into whether Foles finds time to do his thing. The Wildcats are breaking in an entirely new line, with just one career start spread among five new regulars before the opener against Northern Arizona.

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater

Record: 1-0, beat Northern Arizona 41-10 in season opener Saturday night.

Best player: Quarterback Nick Foles, who threw for the most yards of the opening weekend – 412 – and struck for a career-best five touchdown tosses.

Why the Cats could beat OSU: The Cowboys beat Arizona 36-10 in December in the Alamo Bowl and there's been little excitement, so far, surrounding this matchup. If it's the same in the Cowboys locker room, a lack of full focus for a team with Foles-led firepower would be unwise.

Why the Cats will lose to OSU: Arizona will arrive with some of the nation's elite offensive skill players in Foles and wideout Juron Criner, but has too many holes elsewhere, as well as injury issues in key spots.

By John Helsley, Staff Writer


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