Oklahoma State may be 2-0 to start the season but they’re a team that is less than a week away from having some significant problems exposed. Fresh off blowout wins over Missouri State and South Alabama the Cowboys made their Top 25 debut on Sunday, checking in at #24 in the AP and #19 in the Coaches. The problem is, this team hasn’t been tested yet…but it’s coming.
On the heels of delivering back-to-back beat downs to sub par opponents, Oklahoma State has the nation’s top-ranked offense. The Pokes are averaging 674.5 yards per game and flying as high as you’d expect a Mike Gundy offense to soar. Defensively they’re holding opponents to 15 points per game, ranking them 29th nationally in scoring defense.
That’s all about to change though. When you start the season against lower tier Missouri Valley and Sun Belt Conference opponents you’re able to cover up what would otherwise glaring weaknesses. When you suddenly step up to the 17th-ranked team in the nation there’s nowhere you can hide those struggles.
Boise State is already road tested on the season and is matching Oklahoma State stride for stride against better competition. They’ve seen the same film we have, but they’re going to recognize the opportunity that’s been there in the midst of OSU’s success.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
Turnovers. Taylor Cornelius has thrown three interceptions and the Cowboys have also lost a pair of fumbles. That’s five turnovers in two games against teams that would finish below Kansas in the Big 12. You can overcome those mistakes against that level of competition but Boise State is a different animal. The Broncos will undoubtedly make you pay for those mistakes.
Open Receivers. Missouri State and South Alabama both had multiple opportunities with open receivers downfield. They didn’t have quarterbacks capable of making the throws though and the Cowboys defense made it off the field unscathed.
Boise State is fourth nationally in total offense, racking up an average of 617 yards per game. Quarterback Brett Rypien is hitting 73% of his passes and has thrown seven touchdown passes with no interceptions on the year. Oklahoma State won’t be able to afford to allow Broncos receivers open downfield.
The offensive line is a hot mess. Have you noticed that OSU is rolling Cornelius a whole lot? How about the fact that the Cowboys didn’t have a 100 yard rusher against South Alabama?
It’s not coincidence that Oklahoma State has run an end around, for a touchdown, with their receivers in each of the first two game. The offensive line can’t get a push up the middle and they certainly can’t protect Cornelius in the pocket.
This, in my opinion, is OSU’s biggest problem. I believe that it is going to cost them as they enter the heart of their schedule as well. The Big 12 isn’t known for top defenses (Boise State is 25th nationally in scoring defense) but still, you can’t have a typical Big 12 offense if you can’t win at the line of scrimmage. I feel like that’s going to be a struggle the rest of the way for the Pokes.
Of course there’s always the chance that I could be wrong here and am just nitpicking the in-state rival. However, if you’ve watched Oklahoma State’s first two games objectively then you know that there’s a greater chance of me being right about this than being wrong.