Oct 5, 2013; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys running back Jeremy Smith (31) runs for yardage during the fourth quarter against the Kansas State Wildcats at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 Pick Of The Week: Cowboys Will Get Stiff Test From Tough TCU 'D'

Eight of the 10 Big 12 teams are in action this weekend, including two of the three conference leaders in Baylor and Texas Tech. Texas, which stands 3-0 in the conference after dropping two of its opening  three games – and not in pretty fashion – and Kansas State, which is still seeking its first league win after three attempts, are both idle this weekend.

The spotlight as far as the Big 12 is concerned will be on Stillwater, Okla., where Oklahoma State is hosting TCU in one of Saturday’s early kickoffs.

The Cowboys have had a week off to prepare for coach Gary Patterson and his Horned Frogs, who encountered a tougher game than expected last weekend at home against the lowly Kansas Jayhawks.

The statistical odds seem to highly favor the home team in this one. After all, Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1) has come out on top in 15 of its last 16 home games and this Saturday is looking for its 26th win in its last 39 homecoming games. Also in OSU’s favor is that TCU has not won in Stillwater since 1991, although before last season, the two teams had not played in Stillwater since 1993.

Because of a scheduling situation, this is the second-straight year the Horned Frogs have been the visitor at Oklahoma State. TCU inherited Texas A&M’s schedule when the Aggies left the Big 12 for the SEC. Texas A&M had owed OSU an extra home game at the time of the Aggies’ exit from the Big 12. Oklahoma State won last year’s game 36-10.

Despite TCU’s somewhat misleading 3-3 overall record and 1-2 mark in the big 12, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy is not about to take this week’s opponent lightly. “TCU is a team that I don’t think their record exemplifies the type of team they are,” Gundy said. “They are playing real well on defense. We definitely have our work cut out for us.”

Something else to add to coach Gundy’s concern: TCU does very well playing on the road. Since 2009, the Horned Frogs have the nation’s fourth best road record at 16-3. Before losing in a close game at Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago, Patterson’s team had beaten five straight top-25 opponents on the road.

Oklahoma State enters Saturday’s homecoming game ranked 17th in the nation in the USA Today Coaches Poll (21st in the AP poll). Through its first five games, the Cowboys have displayed a fairly balanced offense (running the ball 175 times and passing on 199 plays. Quarterback J.W. Walsh averages 241 passing yards a game, which ranks third among Big 12 quarterbacks. He will be tested on Saturday, however, going up against one of the best defensive secondaries in the country, led by All-America defensive back candidate Jason Verrett

TCU’s offense is adequate, averaging 331 yards and 27.8 points per game, but if the Horned Frogs are going to win this game, it will be because of their defense and their ability to contain the conference’s fourth-best offensive attack.

As good as TCU’s defense has been, though, it is the worst in the league in preventing teams from scoring once within the Horned Frogs’ 20-yard line. TCU’s opponents have a 94 percent success rate (16 of 17) in the Red Zone. On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Oklahoma State has come away with points in 22 of its 24 trips into the Red Zone.

In tightly contested games, which this game projects to be, turnovers can play a huge if not decisive part in the outcome of the game. Oklahoma State leads the conference in this category with a plus-seven (seven more takeways than turnovers lost). The TCU defense is three back at plus-four. The Cowboys also have been highly efficient in stopping its opponents on third down – second best in the Big 12 – which also could be a determining factor on Saturday.

Game prediction: Oklahoma State 28, TCU 24

Three Things to Watch for in the Oklahoma State-TCU Game on Saturday

  • With a highly mobile quarterback in sophomore Trevone Boykin, TCU prefers to run the football and set up its limited but effective passing game off of the run. If Oklahoma State is able to shut down the TCU rushing game, and the Cowboys are second best in the Big 12 in stopping the run, it could be a very long day for Boykin and the TCU offense. Morever, this would put even greater pressure on the quality Horned Frog defense.
  • Oklahoma State’s leading rusher this season is J.W. Walsh, the quarterback. The Pokes are going ro have to get more out of senior Jeremy Smith and the other running backs if they hope to sustain drives and produce enough points to outlast the Horned Frogs.
  • TCU’s three losses this season have been by an average of eight points, including a three-point loss at Oklahoma. Oklahoma State lost by nine at West Virginia and defeated Kansas State by just four points at home in a come-from-behind win in the Cowboys’ last outing.

Other Big 12 Picks in Week 8

Texas Tech 34 @ West Virginia 38 - West Virginia has already beaten one ranked team at home this year. Tech will be No. 2.

Oklahoma 42 @ Kansas 14 -Sooners have won 20 consecutive games after losing the game before. Not a get-well game for Kansas.

Iowa State 24 @ Baylor 55 – Iowa State built some confidence in losing a close game at T-Tech. That feeling will quickly dissipate against Baylor.

Last week’s result: 3-1

For the Season: 34-9 (.790)

Tags: Baylor Bears Ma Sooners Oklaho Oklahoma State Cowboys TCU Horned Frogs Texas Longhorns Texas Tech Red Raiders

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