The Oklahoma State Cowboys will take their high-powered offense on the road this week to take on Big 12 Conference rival Missouri.
The Cowboys were given a lot of love by the BCS computers this week, ranking fourth in the initial standings, and they are out to prove the naysayers wrong.
We all know the offense, which is led by Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, is legit. Questions about the defense, which ranks 68th in points allowed, are what give analysts pause about declaring them one of the best teams in the country.
Missouri has had a rough time finding a consistent rhythm this season. The Tigers are 3-3 through six games, including a 1-2 mark in the Big 12. A win over Oklahoma State would give them some swagger back and put them back in the mix for a bowl bid.
Where: Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri
When: Saturday, Oct. 22 at 12:00 p.m. EDT
Watch: FX National Broadcast
Listen: KOKB 1580 AM (Oklahoma State); KBXR-FM 102.3, KFRU-AM 1400
Betting Line: Oklahoma State (-7.5)
Cowboys’ Injury Report
Out: Jonathan Rush, OL (Knee), Devin Hedgepath, CB (Achilles), Johnny Thomas, S (Ineligible)
Tigers’ Injury Report
Questionable: Will Ebner, LB (Ankle)
Out: Brandon Durant, LB (Knee), Elvis Fisher, LB (Knee), Marcus Murphy, RB (Shoulder)
Key Storyline To Watch: Is Oklahoma State Really The Fourth-Best Team In The Country?
Oklahoma State has a tendency to lose at least one game every season that it should win. The reason for those shortcomings is a suspect defense that can be had against any team, no matter how good or bad they might be.
If the Cowboys want to prove that they really belong in the same class as LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma, they have to shine in road games.
Missouri may not be a perfect team, but it is more than capable of putting up points with any team in the country.
Oklahoma State is going to score, but the defense has to stop Missouri in order to prove it has earned the No. 4 spot in the BCS.
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
The BCS loves Oklahoma State. There were four computers that named the Cowboys the No. 1 team in the country, and that number could increase with an impressive performance against Missouri.
The Cowboys have very real National Championship aspirations right now, so you know they will want to make a good impression on the computers and human voters before next week’s polls come out.
Missouri shot itself in the foot at the end of September/early October with three losses in four games. Things don’t get easier as the Tigers take on Oklahoma State on Saturday and Texas A&M next week. If they win both of those games, they can sneak back into the AP and Coaches Top 25.
What They Are Saying
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has never been one to mince words at a press conference, and even though he did not provide any memorable quotes at his weekly media call, he did say that he was impressed with the way his team has played on the road this season.
“You always have to be encouraged when you win on the road in this league.
They're just not giving them away. I mentioned this to the staff after the (UT) game.
“We talked to the team and guys were packing up and getting ready to leave, and I said, ‘We need to get our stuff and get out of here as fast as we can, before anybody changes their mind.' That's really the approach you have to have, in my opinion, when you play in this league and play on the road. It's difficult.”
Oklahoma State Player To Watch: Brandon Weeden, QB
While it would be easy to pick any number of players on Oklahoma State's offense to highlight, the fact remains that everything runs through the quarterback.
Brandon Weeden has been fantastic in his last three games after a slow start to the season. He has gone 94-for-128 with 944 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Weeden is the engine that makes the machine go, so his success or failure is going to determine how good or bad this team is.
Missouri Player To Watch: Henry Josey, RB
In previous years, Missouri has been a pass-first team. With Henry Josey averaging nearly 10 yards per carry this season, the Tigers have become more of a run-first team.
Josey has 717 yards and six touchdowns on just 74 carries. He has run for at least 129 yards in three of the last four games, including 133 against Oklahoma at the end of September.
Missouri can't score with Oklahoma State, so the best chance for this team to win will be to control the clock and keep Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon off the field.
Key Matchup: Missouri Running Backs vs. Oklahoma State Defensive Line
We mentioned Henry Josey before, but the Tigers running game as a whole has been very good this season. They rank 13th in the country with nearly 237 yards per game.
Oklahoma State has never had a strong defense, particularly up front, and if the Tigers are able to run the ball on them there could be an upset brewing in Columbia.
For any team going up against an explosive offense, the key will be to keep the ball away from them. The easiest way to do that is to run the ball effectively, and Missouri has the horses in the stable to do it.
I really want to go with Missouri because it is an early kickoff, at home against a team that usually loses one game it shouldn't every year, but I just can't.
Oklahoma State is too strong on offense and will do just enough on defense to win this game.
Oklahoma State 41, Missouri 27