Week Two: Maintaining Momentum in the Quest for the Big 12 Championship

Eric MariottContributor IAugust 7, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:   Wide Receiver Dez Bryant  #1 of the Oklahoma State University Cowboys jumps up to catch the ball as Free Safety T.J. Ward #2 of the University of Oregon Ducks breaks up the pass during the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 30, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Authors Note:  I will be breaking down each Oklahoma State regular football season game and posting a matchup at hopefully a miminum one per week until finished.  This is part 2 of the series.  If you want to read my first matchup outlining the Georgia game, please go to my profile page and go from there.

          The hardest thing about being an alum from a Big 12 school and living in a SEC town is the lack of Big 12 football material, especially if one is 35 years old and has to call his mother in Missouri to run to the local supermarket and pick up a Big 12 football preview and mail it to him.  Nonetheless, the material has arrived and it is time to seriously break down the 2009 season for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. 

          The Cowboys will come off probably one of the toughest opening weekends with Georgia since opening against the defending National Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1995.  The first week out of the gate will be a challenge for all, offense, defense, and special teams.  Week two should be easier, but won’t exactly be classified as a cupcake game for the Pokes as they take on The Houston Cougars in Stillwater.  Conference-USA has traditionally never been looked at seriously as a BCS contender, but the past few years, the conference has become more competitive and will definitely be looking for bigger conference opponents to knock down.  Coach Kevin Sumlin has enjoyed some success in his first year (2008), including a win with the Armed Forces Bowl.  Looking at this years schedule with away games at Oklahoma State and Mississippi State and a home game against Texas Tech, one wonders if Coach Sumlin is hoping that at least one win with one of these games will potentially put Houston in the spotlight. 

          On the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys should be in the position to do what they do best, which is put up points.  The Houston defensive line has several holes in it which should buy time for Zac Robinson to connect with Dez Bryant or to even let Kendall Hunter to run up the gut and put some yards in the record books.  The Cougars will be sending a very experienced sophomore linebacker named Marcus McGraw that could make some great plays, so again it goes back to the OSU offensive line to step up and do what they do best, which is block the defenders and buy time for the playmakers.  Expect Russell Okung and Andrew Lewis to work hard and keep those behind the line of scrimmage protected.  The Houston defensive line is incredibly thin and intense pressure should help the Pokes find a crease to exploit . 

          Defense is of course the big issue with Oklahoma State.  The secondary has no experience except Perrish Cox at corner.  This could spell out some serious trouble, but new Defensive Coordinator Bill Young (well, new for the Cowboys, but not new to college football) has most of his linebackers returning.  Andre Sexton and Orie Lemon will be the shining stars of the linebacker corps.  The defensive line will also tell the tale of the season, as that was the weakest part of the team in the 2008 season.  Although defense is a problem with the Cowboys, Houston will be weak in the running backs department with the only real threat of Bryce ‘Brick’ Hall.  The real issue with be how the secondary matches up with the vast array of wide receivers that Houston can throw at any opponent.  Look for Cougar wideouts Tyron Carrier and Kierrie Johnson to make some noise.  All this adds up to a chance for the pokes to put some hardcore pressure on the Houston line and on QB Case Keenum. 

          Special teams again will be an OSU strength.  Expect some major dividends from the investment made by Oklahoma State here and potentially see two special teams scores before the 4th quarter in this game.

          In the final analysis, OSU should come out on top with a high scoring offensive.  Don’t expect Houston to lay down and take it however, this could be a great game on Sept. 12. 

          Go Pokes.