When the Kansas Jayhawks travel to Stillwater to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys, they will be trying to shut down one of the most potent offenses in college football.
The Jayhawks started the season with two victories that should not have been as difficult as they were, over McNeese State and Northern Illinois. Then they started playing better competition, and their true colors came out. They have given up 111 points in the last two games, against Georgia Tech and Texas Tech.
The Cowboys are on a roll right now. The offense is firing on all cylinders, averaging over 44 points per game. But the biggest surprise has been the defense, which is only giving up 26.4 points per game. If they play this well all season, they can win the Big 12.
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma
When: Saturday, Oct. 8 at 3:30 p.m. EST
Watch: No TV, according to LSUFootball.net
Listen: 1320 AM Jayhawk Radio Network; KSPI-AM 780, KSPI-FM 93.7 Cowboy Sports Network
Betting Line: Oklahoma State (-31)
What's At Stake?
A BCS spot for Oklahoma State hangs in the balance. The Cowboys are ranked sixth in the AP Poll and seventh in the Coaches Poll. They are coming off their best win of the season at Texas A&M by overcoming a 17-point halftime deficit.
They can't be content with that win, though. They have to continue to build momentum as the season moves along and they get ready for their showdown against Texas in Austin next week.
Jayhawks' Injury Report
Darrian Miller, RB: probable with a hamstring injury.
John Williams, DB: out for season with torn ACL.
Daymond Patterson, WR: out for season with groin injury.
Cowboys' Injury Report
Key Storyline: Will Oklahoma State's Defense Continue Its Solid Play?
The Cowboys have had an exciting offense throughout Mike Gundy's tenure as head coach. But they have never been able to play enough defense to beat the best teams in the Big 12.
They are still not a great defensive unit by any means, but they are showing some improvement in the early part of this season. If they can keep playing that bend-but-don't-break style of defense, they have a chance to go undefeated and play for a national championship.
What They Are Saying
Kansas head coach Turner Gill spent a portion of his weekly press conference praising Oklahoma State's defense:
Defensively, the thing that jumps out at me are their stats. They have caused 13 turnovers, so we have to make sure that we have extremely good ball security. We also need to take care of the ball as far as not throwing any interceptions. We've got our work cut out, but our guys are responding well. I love the way they have come in (this week) and are really getting ready to play...
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy wants his team to stay in the moment and not get distracted by last week's victory and next week's game against Texas:
They are an improved team. Our preparation will be very important this week. We need to stay focused on the task at hand. We need to avoid distractions. By doing these things, we will give ourselves a chance to play well on Saturday.
Kansas Player To Watch: Jordan Webb, QB
The Jayhawks have to score a lot of points if they want to win this game, which means Jordan Webb has to play the game of his life.
He has had a solid season thus far—814 yards, nine touchdowns and completing 67.9 percent of his passes—but is not throwing for the kind of yardage that he will have to in order to lead this team into Stillwater and pull off the upset.
Oklahoma State Player To Watch: Joseph Randle, RB
The Cowboys are going to throw the ball all over the field, but they have been working to incorporate more running plays into the offense this season.
Joseph Randle has had a good start to the season with 461 yards and seven touchdowns on just 83 carries. If they can run the ball and take some pressure off the passing game and Brandon Weeden, it will benefit the team in the future.
Key Matchup: Kansas Offense vs. Oklahoma State Defense
As we have mentioned throughout the article, the Kansas offense has to score in order to keep this game interesting for longer than one quarter.
Oklahoma State needs to improve defensively if it hopes to compete in the Big 12 with Oklahoma and Texas.
The battle between the Jayhawks offense and Cowboys defense will ultimately decide who wins this game.
Kansas is not playing well on defense, which does not bode well when you are going to play the third-highest scoring team in the country. This game will get ugly in a hurry, which will allow Weeden and Justin Blackmon to rest in the second half.
Oklahoma State 56, Kansas 17