Oklahoma State moved into its bye week with an impressive 3-0 record. At 51.7 points per game, the Cowboys are the second highest scoring team in the Big 12 (Kansas 53). They are also second in the league in passing yards per game (348) and second in quarterback sacks recorded (9). They’ve pretty much done what they needed to do in order to silence their critics and doubters. After giving up 424 passing yards to Central Michigan in the season opener, Derrick Mason made the proper adjustments and held the next two opponents to a combined total of 372 passing yards.
On the other side of the ball, Spencer Sanders leads all conference quarterbacks with 305.3 yards per game, 10 passing touchdowns, and is second in QB efficiency at 178.9. Things are certainly humming for the Pokes but with a trip to Waco, and the start of conference play, waiting on the other side of the bye week, we have a few questions?
1. Can Oklahoma State Continue To Secure The Ball?
Let’s be honest, we’re all pleasantly surprised that Spencer Sanders has only thrown one interception through the first three games of the season. He literally has 10 times that many touchdowns to start his senior campaign and he’s the key reason the Cowboy offense has clicked on all cylinders from the first snap of the season. In addition, the Cowboys have only lost one fumble on the year, further proving a focused effort to keep the football safe and secure.
2. Can the Cowboys Continue To Play Clean?
We might be nitpicking a bit here but the small things matter in big moments. Oklahoma State is currently the fourth most flagged team in the Big 12, surrendering an average of 44.7 yards per game to penalties. There’s room to improve here but the advantage is clearly on on the side of the Cowboys. Opponents against Oklahoma State have been flagged for 208 total yards (69.3 yards per game) which is the third most in the conference. When your opponent is giving up more free yards than you are then it’s absolutely a bonus. By the way, Baylor is currently the most penalized team in the Big 12, having been flagged for 247 yards (82.3 YPG).
3. Can OSU Improve In Red Zone Defense?
Granted, the sample size is still small but Oklahoma State currently has the second worst percentage in the conference in terms of defending in the Red Zone. Opponents are scoring 88.9% of the time against the Cowboys once they reach the twenty yard line. Opponents have gone on to score eight of the nine times they’ve reached the Red Zone against the OSU defense. Seven of those successful trips inside the twenty have resulted in touchdowns (3 runs/4 passes) and the Pokes have also given up a field goal.
Through three weeks West Virginia has the worst Red Zone defense in the Big 12, with opponents scoring 90% of the time, and Oklahoma leads the league by holding opponents to a 60% score rate.
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