In the two weeks of play so far this season, the Oklahoma State defense has had some shaky moments in the first half before stiffening up and shutting both Missouri State and South Alabama out in the second half of each game.
Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles looks to have implemented some solid strategy, and the Cowboys are currently ranked ninth in the NCAA in total defense, allowing just 237 yards per contest. Oklahoma State still has some issues to work out, and Boise State will definitely be a test to see just how much, if at all, the defense has improved.
Too Much Laundry
In week one, the Cowboys picked up several key penalties that gave Missouri State good opportunities, and last week Oklahoma State had six penalties, several of which were personal fouls, and one was a targeting call on Kenneth Edison-McGruder, which led to his ejection.
Flags are abound to fly at some point or another, but costly penalties have been far too common already so far this season, and the Cowboys simply cannot allow Boise State extra opportunities on Saturday because of silly mistakes.
Oklahoma State has only forced three turnovers so far this season, which isn’t great considering the level of competition the last two weeks.
The Cowboys are 57-5 in the last 10 years in games where they win the turnover battle, and that should be a key focus on Saturday. Boise State has only turned the ball over once so far this season, and Oklahoma State needs to find away to take the ball away from the Bronco offense.
Shut Down the Passing Game
Boise State has put up some impressive numbers on the ground by averaging 255.5 rushing yards per game through two weeks, but Oklahoma State has looked solid up front. The Cowboys should be able to do a good job of limiting the run game and hopefully getting pressure in the backfield. The secondary, however, could be an issue.
The Broncos are averaging 361.5 yards through the air, which is 13th in the nation. While the Cowboys have done a decent job at defending the pass overall, there have been a few breakdowns which have led to big plays by the opposing offense. If Boise State is able to find success through the air, that will open their opportunities on the ground, which would create a host of issues for the Cowboys.