Hail Mary still stings,
Cowboys next, season’s fate swings,
Musket: Oklahoma State had a *rough* first month of the season to say the least. However, they have rallied and come into this weekend’s game on a hot streak with upsets of Kansas State and Kansas. What have been the biggest factors in the apparent turnaround in Stillwater?
Phillip: Picking a quarterback (and running back for that matter). The three-quarterback rotation that Mike Gundy and Co. went through the first three weeks of the season cost them, arguably, two games; the South Alabama and maybe Iowa State. The offense never had a chance to find any rhythm or consistency with three guys getting an equal share under center. Once the coaching staff did what everyone expected them to do all season — choose former Texas Tech and Michigan quarterback Alan Bowman — the offense was finally able to figure things out. You could see the progress of the offense even through the four quarters against Iowa State. To pair with that, running back Ollie Gordon seemed to be held back through non-conference as well (19 carries),being stuck in a 3-man split at running back with Jaden Nixon (18carries) and Michigan State transfer Elijah Collins (25 carries). But beginning with the Iowa State game, Ollie has been the man, getting81% of the running back carries and responding with three-straight100+ yard rushing games.
West Virginia is going to want to run the football a ton with CJ Donaldson and (lately) true freshman speed back Jahiem White. They’ll also rely on Garrett Greene’s legs a ton to get their offense going. How has Oklahoma State fared against the run so far and specifically how have they looked against dual threat QBs?
The rushing defense has arguably been the strength of OSU’s defense so far this season. They are 28th in EPA/rush on defense and have held all three Big 12 teams to at least their second-lowest rushing outputs of the season (Iowa State 2nd, Kansas State 2nd, Kansas lowest) and have done so against the likes of David Gliddens and Devin Neal. As for dual-threat quarterbacks, I would argue that Will Howard is the best they’ve faced so far in that category. He did run for 104 yards on OSU, but 70 yards of that came on one play.
WVU’s best defensive performances so far this season have come from applying pressure to opposing QBs, which led to wins against Pitt, Tech, and TCU before inexplicably dropping eight and letting Dana Holgorsen out route them to death against Houston? How has OSU stacked up against blitz-heavy teams this season if West Virginia decides to go back to what’s worked.
Oklahoma State’s offensive line isn’t great, though it has looked better as the season has progressed. It’s giving up 1.8 sacks per game but is only giving up .66 per game in conference play. Add in Alan Bowman, who has done a really good job of getting rid of the ball when nothing is there. He’s thrown three interceptions on the season, but none the last two weeks. If West Virginia wants to bring pressure, through the last three games, OSU has done a decent job of dealing with it.
I think everyone in Morgantown is prepared for a ton of Ollie Gordon. Give me some under the radar names that WVU should be looking out for on Saturday.
Brennan Presley finally got the ball last week. He’s not exactly under the radar, but he was averaging only 3.75 receptions the four weeks prior. OSU finally decided to get its other playmaker (joining Ollie) the ball and worked well to the tune of 8 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, and one carry for 6 yards. With the loss of top target De’Zhaun Stribling for the season, I would also keep an eye on Rashod Owens. He’s third on the team in receptions and will continue to be called upon to carry a heavier load as the season progresses.
I like to end with this with everyone this year. What’s the pulse of the OSU fanbase on the state of the Big 12 (and college sports as a whole) going forward after the last two summers of realignment insanity?
I think OSU fans were enjoying being on the “winning” side for once, like all Big 12 fans, and happy to feel like they were sitting in a position of strength. I don’t think they were nearly as vocal about it all as the more online fanbases (see; UCF, Texas Tech, Kansas State, etc...) However, the start of the season brought all of that to a halt when the team got blasted at home by South Alabama and everyone started to wonder if Gundy had completely lost it. At this point, I think there’s way more focus on the state of the football — and men’s basketball — program than there is concern about what’s going on in the Big 12 as a whole.
Thanks again to Phillip for the prospective from the other side. Follow Phillip on Twitter/X, and check out The Ten12 Podcast and the rest of The Ten12 Network’s podcast offerings, available everywhere you get your podcasts.