The way Jeff Woody electrified every Iowa State fan two seasons ago when he stormed into the endzone in overtime against Oklahoma State was something nobody will forget. The Cyclones finally pulled off a victory over one of the top teams in college football, and Ames celebrated together loudly and proudly as they knew their team was headed to a bowl game.
It’s time to put those memories aside this Saturday when two much different teams meet on the field halfway through the college football season. Iowa State (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) has become an offensive “mess” (pun sort of intended) in the past two weeks, and they desperately need to right the ship as they take on their third straight top 25 team. Believe it or not, as great as Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) is, this could be a golden opportunity for the Cyclones to get their annual top 25 victory and salvage a disappointing season.
(19)Oklahoma State Cowboys vs Iowa State Cyclones
Jack Trice Stadium | Ames, Iowa
KICKOFF – SAT, 10/26, 11:00 AM CT | TV – FOX Sports Networks
- Broadcast information
- Five players to watch
- Five keys to victory
- Sam Richardson will start
- Feature: Why the defense can’t be blamed
- Iowa State’s midseason grades
- Week 9 Big 12 football picks
This isn’t the typical high-flying Oklahoma State offensive attack that we’ve seen over the past couple years. It’s been a team that’s been struggling to find consistency at the quarterback position, whose defense has been struggling in true road games, and more importantly has missed their big 200-pound back from last year, Joseph Randle.
Current running back Jeremy Smith hasn’t been anywhere as effective as Randle from a season ago; he’s on pace to finish with about 1,000 less rushing yards. Some of the running game has been picked up by dual-threat quarterback J.W. Walsh seeing more playing time under center earlier in the season. But when he faced TCU last week, he struggled mightily and was pulled early on in the second quarter in favor of Clint Chelf.
Chelf’s ability to stay in the pocket helped Oklahoma State pull off the victory, but now Mike Gundy and the rest of the coaching staff has remained mum on who will be under center for the Cowboys this week in Ames.
That’s in complete different contrast to Paul Rhoads, who said back on Tuesday that Richardson will undoubtedly be the starter because he knows the system better. If Gundy did his homework, he would know that Walsh should be out on the field unless he wasn’t physically able to move.
Iowa State’s defense falters under dual-threat quarterbacks and big, bruising running backs. Oklahoma State has the former, and Walsh was able to torch the Cyclones for 415 passing yards, 46 more rushing yards, and two total touchdowns.
It could be said that Walsh probably won’t emulate that performance without Randle opening up the passing game, but if Smith can make the Iowa State defense miss tackles, it may not be long before the game looks similar to what happened in Stillwater last year.
With the Cyclones’ football team sinking halfway through the season, they must give the crowd something at Jack Trice Stadium to cheer for. They need to give this the game the atmosphere that it had two years ago. Sam Richardson won’t run all over the place like Jared Barnett or probably throw for 376 yards. Albert Gary probably won’t get over 100 receiving yards.
But that atmosphere has to give the defense enough life to force turnovers and give Oklahoma State some doubt to keep them from getting a bowl berth for one more week this season. Otherwise, the boo birds could be out early, chants of Grant Rohach will start to rain down, and fans will want to call in and bitch to Chris Williams about how badly they want Courtney Messingham and Wally Burnham to be fired.
For some fans, they’ll probably want the guy that’s always proud of his players gone too. If that doesn’t light a fire under the Cyclones’ ass and make them play like they did in their last home game against Texas, nothing will do it for them this season.
What to watch for
Obviously, no team can make mistakes against a better team on paper and hope to win the game. That reigns especially true with Oklahoma State. While they’ve lost the ball nine times already this season, they’ve taken the ball away 16 times – 12 of those were interceptions.
Throwing the ball on the Cowboys is a must for the Cyclones to win, but Richardson or Rohach will have to be incredibly careful not to let any pass sail or even take chances into double coverage. If a play isn’t there, it will be much better to either hope for a little running room or just throw the ball away.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Cyclones respond after a torturous two-game road trip. There’s definitely no reason to quit with the stadium still expected to be packed and well…bowl hopes are mathematically still alive.
Iowa State won’t quit and let all the fans just start thinking about basketball season. The defense will still likely give up at least 500 yards and Jeremy Smith will probably have a breakout day on the ground. But all the defensive unit needs to do is make plays; they had five turnovers in the big upset against the Cowboys two years ago.
While the defense will make a few plays to put the offense in a few good positions, and Kirby Van Der Kamp will always be on point with his punting, there’s simply not enough that we’ve seen from the offense to expect a victory. Iowa State needs a balanced attack, and they don’t have that with Sam Richardson still hobbling and no other running back stepping up for a banged-up Aaron Wimberly.
The game will be close until Oklahoma State makes some adjustments at half. Expect the Cowboys to pull away to at least a two-touchdown victory.
OK ST 34, IA ST 17 (Odds: OK ST -12.5, O56)