Oklahoma State, coming off a bye week, will be playing in their third 11:00 am kickoff as they travel to take on Kansas in Lawrence. The Jayhawks will have to pick themselves up off the floor for this one following the beat down by Baylor. Still, they’ve shown they can be competitive, especially at home. They just need to learn how to finish off games in which they have late leads.
Date/Time: Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, 11 a.m. CDT
Where: Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, Kansas)
Forecast: Mainly sunny. High 74 F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Betting Line: OSU -24.5
Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys have found their future running back in freshman Justice Hill. Hill has run for 403 yards in his first six games after assuming the starter role following Chris Carson’s injury.
Hill has been prone to making freshman mistakes, but since two big fumbles in the Baylor loss, he has protected the ball and played well behind an improving offensive line.
Speaking of the offensive line, it’s been great for coach Mike Gundy to be able to run the ball more effectively this season than in 2015. The line is protecting quarterback Mason Rudolph and they’re opening up holes for Hill and the other Cowboy running backs. There is still a ways to go yet, before anyone would call their rushing attack elite, but it is light years ahead of where it has been the last couple of seasons.
Rudolph has played about where most people thought he would up to this point, but there is still room for improvement. Rudolph has only thrown two interceptions, and the Cowboys need to continue to protect the football, because when they don’t, they’ve proven they can lose games that they have the capability of winning. Without turnovers, we could be talking about the 6-0 Cowboys instead of this 4-2 team.
Keys to the Game for Oklahoma State
Don’t Underestimate The Opponent – Although KU is a lower-tier Big 12 team, its proven that it can take teams to the wire in Lawrence. KU has played well at home this season, and OSU can’t afford to come out sloppy against KU. It can be tough to get up for a lesser opponents, especially coming off a sleepy bye week with a big opponent next week. The Pokes have to show that they can come out focused and take care of business. Especially as they’ve already been a little snake bitten this season.
Put The Game Away Early – OSU has started slow almost every week. When it offense has come out and played well, the defense follows and the team will jump to a big lead early. It’s important for the Cowboys to put Kansas State away early on Saturday.
Don’t Turn The Ball Over – Rudolph and the Cowboys’ offense have protected the ball well so far this season. They can’t afford to give the ball to a KU team that will be looking to take advantage of any opportunity they’ve given.
Ever since 2007, the Jayhawks have been in a downhill slide.
Last season, they went 0-12 and first-year head coach David Beaty had to settle for moral victories as he wanted to find something KU could focus on in order to start winning some football games.
The Jayhawks finally got that win to open the season, but ever since, it has been back to searching for a moral win, instead of an actual one. The Jayhawks have struggled with turnovers this season. Against FBS opponents, KU averages four giveaways per game to lead the nation. Bowling Green is second to last at 2.8 turnovers per game and Iowa State’s two per game is the next closest in the Big 12. In a 49-7 loss to Baylor, the Big 12 leader in takeaways, KU forked over the ball five times.
The Jayhawks lost by one to TCU in Lawrence, and the Jayhawks have been a much better football team at home. That should give them a confidence boost if they want to pull of an upset over OSU on Saturday.
Keys to the Game for Kansas Jayhawks
Hold On To The Ball – The Jayhawks can’t turn it over four times a game if they want a chance to win. OSU is a team that rarely turns it over, and KU won’t have a lot of opportunities to get behind and catch up to the Cowboy offense.
Control The Clock – The OSU offense is most effective on the field, so KU needs to keep them off the field for as long as they can. If KU wants to upset the Cowboys and get back on the right foot, it’ll need to have the ball for at least 35 minutes.
Special Teams – The Cowboys blocked three extra-point attempts against Texas three weeks ago, so KU needs to make sure its protection on field goals and extra points is ready for the Cowboy rush. They’ll need to be sound in the kicking game, and possibly score a touchdown on a punt or kick return if they want to have a chance at winning the game.
As mentioned before, KU is a better team at home. The Jayhawks won their opening game, and almost beat TCU. They have a chance to win at home, but they’ll need to play perfect to do it, and I don’t see that happening. OSU 56-21.