The Oklahoma State Cowboys host the Iowa State Cyclones in Stillwater tomorrow for another week of Big 12 football. Oklahoma State is currently 3-2 (1-1 in conference) after defeating the Texas Longhorns 49-31 last week, and Iowa State fell to 1-4 (0-2 in conference) after a 42-45 nail-biting loss to the Baylor Bears.
Oklahoma State leads the all-time series against Iowa State 29-18 with 3 ties, and the Cowboys currently own a four-game win streak, tied for longest of the series. The Cowboys have owned this series for the last decade, winning six of the last seven, the one loss coming in OT in 2011 in Ames, which effectively ruined the Cowboys’ chances to play for the NCAA BCS Championship that year.
The Cowboys are currently a 17-point favorite, but some believe that this could be a potential trap game for Oklahoma State. Kickoff is set for 2:30 PM, and the the game will be broadcast on TV on ESPNU, as well as on the radio on 96.1 FM.
The Cyclone offense is mediocre at best, but Junior QB Joel Lanning is coming off a career day against Baylor. Lanning threw 17/23 for 261 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 57 yards and another touchdown. Lanning has actually split some time at quarterback with teammate sophomore Jacob Park, who had an efficient game two weeks ago against San Jose State throwing 15/19 for 165 yards and three touchdowns. Iowa State has no clear cut leader in the receiving corp, as a number of receivers get the ball thrown their way. Overall, the Cyclones rank 60th in the nation in passing offense.
As far as the Cyclone rushing attack goes, Sophomore RB Mike Warren leads a team ranked 96th nationally with 386 yards on the ground and three touchdowns on 91 attempts. Joel Lanning is also pretty decent on his feet, as he’s rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns on 50 attempts.
Overall, the Cyclone offense has struggled to put up points this season, aside from Baylor, averaging only 26 points per game so far. Unless Joel Lanning has another career day, expect the Cyclones to struggle mightily.
Defensively, the Cyclones struggle at stopping the run, ranking 123rd nationally. Iowa State gave up 469 yards against Baylor, so unless they have figured things out in the last week, they could have their hands full against an Oklahoma State rush attack that has improved as the season has continued. The Cyclones only average two sacks a game, an area where the Cowboys have struggled to defend, so it will be interesting to see who wins that battle.
The Iowa State pass defense is actually pretty solid, giving up fewer than 200 yards a game ranking them 29th nationally. Part of the reason for the Cyclones’ success, though, is due to the lack of a need for a pass attack from opponents. Because Iowa State is so bad at stopping the run, opponents do not really need to throw the ball.
The Cyclones are not good at forcing turnovers, either. They recovered a fumble in Week 1 against Northern Iowa, and forced have four interceptions on the season, but all four came against less-talented opponent San Jose State. They will likely continue to struggle with this against the Cowboys.
If the Cowboys focus on a couple of key strategies, then Iowa State should not be a problem. On offense, look for Oklahoma State to run the ball. The run game has shown vast improvement the last couple of weeks, especially when compared to the last couple of season. Justice Hill should expect plenty of carries and opportunities to break loose for a lot of yardage. Hill could easily have another career day.
Success in the run game will open up the pass attack, and Mason Rudolph will look to continue his success on the field. The Cowboys have the most talented group of receivers in the conference, maybe even the country, so the offense should be humming once again. If Oklahoma State can establish the run, sprinkle in some passing, and most importantly take care of the ball, they should put up a lot of points.
Defensively, the Cowboys need to shut down Joel Lanning. He’s a dual-threat quarterback, which he put on display last week, so expect the Oklahoma State defense to focus in on him. The Cowboys did a good job last week of not allowing very many big plays, so they will need to continue that trend this week.
While this game very well could turn into a trap for the Cowboys, as long as they are able to take care of the ball and play football like Cowboy fans know they can, they should head into Sunday with another win and potentially have a chance at cracking the Top 25.