Game 5: Oklahoma State at Kansas – Preview and Prediction

Opponent: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Opponent’s Record: 3-1 (beat Missouri State, beat USA, beat Boise State, loss Texas Tech)

Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas

Game time: Saturday, September 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

TV channel: FSN or Fox Sports Go

Radio: 810 WHB

Line: Oklahoma State – 16.5

After embarrassing losses last week for both Oklahoma State and Kansas, expect some fired up performances this Saturday in Lawrence. David Beaty needs to prepare his team for the opening punch from Oklahoma State.

Mike Gundy’s squad got shellacked by Texas Tech last week. The Cowboys, who were solid in beating a very good Boise State team the week before, looked slow against Texas Tech. They struggled in all three phases of the game. Taylor Cornelius, their senior starting quarterback, struggled with his accuracy. Their defense gave up over 600 yards – nearly 400 in the air and over 200 on the ground. Even the Cowboys’ typically infallible kicker Matt Amendola missed a 36 yarder.

Despite their poor showing Saturday, Oklahoma State still has a high ceiling. They defeated a very strong Murder Smurf team (Boise State for the uninitiated), and they boast one of the best running backs in all of college football. Which Oklahoma State team will KU get this week? Well, let’s hope it’s the former, but we should expect the latter.

When Oklahoma State has the ball

Taylor Cornelius is a big dude. At 6’6″ and 230 pounds, Cornelius is tough to take down in the pocket and can extend plays with his legs. He struggled with accuracy last week, but prior to Texas Tech he had been more efficient. To help him out, the Cowboys have one of the best running backs in the country. Justice Hill has been averaging 7.8 yards per carry and has gone over the 100 yard mark 3 times already this season. He is big, strong and downright explosive. Joe Dineen will meet his match for the first time in 2018.

In the passing game, Oklahoma State is led by sure-handed sophomore Tylan Wallace. Outside of Wallace, the Cowboys spread it out, utilizing the Air Raid concepts that have been a staple of Mike Gundy’s tenure. Their speed on the outside will be an even bigger challenge than the athletes that Baylor had last week. Oklahoma State will punish Keith Loneker if he is lined up in the slot, much like Baylor and other Big 12 teams have done in the past.

I think KU will have their hands full on defense. The Cowboys are fast on the outside and explosive up the middle with Hill. Can KU’s defensive backs play with more discipline in the first half than they did last week against Baylor? Will KU’s linebackers continue to be exposed as liabilities in coverage? If Oklahoma State can exploit the seams early and force safeties to abandon outside help, it could be a great bounce-back opportunity for the Cowboys’ offense.

When KU has the ball

Oklahoma State’s defense was vulnerable last Saturday. Texas Tech pounded their defense early and often, eclipsing 200 yards on the ground. While I certainly expect Oklahoma State to pack the box against the Jayhawks, KU has the talent at running back to get some yards against the Cowboys. To make matters worse for the Cowboys, one of their star linebackers, Calvin Bundage, is questionable for Saturday’s matchup. 

I expect Beaty to roll with Peyton Bender for the most part on Saturday. I don’t love the call considering OSU’s relatively weak run defense, but I guess the logic is that Bender commands more respect in the passing game. They need to break eight-man boxes and it doesn’t matter who is quarterback for the Jayhawks. They can’t open the game up for Pooka when defenses can key on the offense. It’s year fur of David Beaty’s tenure, and the Jayhawks have never had a year averaging more than 250 yards per game during that time. For a supposed “practitioner of the Air Raid,” that is pretty abysmal. KU has a strong rushing attack, a good defense, and adequate special teams. The main thing, and it’s huge, is that they are missing a passing offense. If they can’t find one, they won’t win in the Big 12 this season.

Prediction

I got my first one right last week (ignore the score)! This week the spread is at +16.5 for Kansas. I think that is little generous, but the 11 AM kickoff at home can do some funky stuff. The game really boils down to who can run the ball better. While Pooka is incredible, I have a little more faith in Oklahoma State’s line and Justice Hill to get the job done. If they open the game up for one on one matchups with KU’s corners on the outside… watch out.

Oklahoma State 45, Kansas 17 (OKST -16.5)

Season record: 1-3, 0-4 ATS

Last week’s prediction: Baylor 27, Kansas 23 (actual Baylor 26, Kansas 7)