No. 17 Boise State Travels To No. 24 Oklahoma State
The Broncos head to Stillwater to take on the Cowboys in a ranked showdown
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9/15 Stillwater, Oklahoma 1:30 PM MT ESPN (Get a free trial of FuboTV to stream this game) (ESPN’s FPI OSU 54.3%)
Fireworks are sure to fly when Boise State heads to T. Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday to take on Oklahoma State. This game looks to be the first real test for both teams, as the Broncos and Cowboys have scored at least 50 points in each of their two previous contests.
Oklahoma State’s coach Mike Gundy is known for his entertaining offenses and crazy antics. These antics include his fantastic mullet to colorful press conferences, including earlier this week when he pretended to spill smoothie on his sweater and when he removed it he revealed a football officials shirt (he claimed this act was to remind everyone attending the game to stripe the stadium). What has clearly not been an antic is Coach Gundy’s success, he has won at least 10 games in 6 of the last 8 seasons, including a 2-0 start in 2018.
As potent as the Broncos offense has been in their two lopsided victories so far this year, the Cowboys offense has been better. While BSU ranks 4th in total offense, OSU ranks 1st. Even though Oklahoma State’s quarterback Taylor Cornelius lacks true game experience, the fifth-year senior has shown to be a capable replacement to former star Mason Rudolph who has moved on to the NFL.
Through two games thus far Cornelius has gone 50-75 for 728 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. In addition to replacing their quarterback, the Cowboys also entered 2018 with a question mark at the wide receiver position as their 2017 star James Washington also moved on to the NFL. OSU seems to have found a few answers to this question in sophomore receivers Tyron Johnson and Tylan Wallace who both had over 100 yards receiving against South Alabama last week.
Oklahoma State has been spending the first two games of the year breaking in a new defensive coordinator in Jim Knowles, who joins the Cowboys after turning around Duke’s defense. Coach Knowles likes to be aggressive and will rely on his veteran front seven to attack the quarterback Brett Rypien to force turnovers and tackles for loss.
The secondary, however, is not so seasoned, relying on sophomores to fill the gaps left by two 2017 senior safeties. Thus far through two games, the defense has forced 3 turnovers (1 interception and 2 fumbles), had eight sacks and allowed 474 total yards. Given the level of competition, defensive strength still remains a question for the Cowboys. The results of Saturday’s game with the Broncos will provide clarity on how effective Coach Knowles’ changes will be in 2018.
Oklahoma State’s special teams unit returns primarily intact. According to Bill Connelly’s S&P+ ranking, the Cowboys went fell from 28th to 72nd in special teams, despite a slight increase in yards per punt by punter Zach Sinor largely due to an increase in return yardage. Placekicker Matt Ammendola looks to improve upon a 79.3% field goal accuracy from 2017. Thus far he is a perfect 3 for 3 on field goals and 7 for 7 on point after attempts.
QB Tyler Cornelius RS SR – After the departure of Mason Rudolph, Cornelius was expected to continue the high scoring offense that is Oklahoma State. Through two games the senior has pulled his weight throwing for 728 yards, a 66.7 completion percentage, 6 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Cornelius is also a running threat boasting runs of 32 and 34 yards vs Missouri State and South Alabama respectively.
RB Justice Hill JR – After back to back 1,000-yard campaigns in 2016 and 2017, running back Justice Hill looks to continue his success in 2018. Thus far he has only 19 attempts for 154 yards and 3 touchdowns, but he averages 8.1 yards per carry. Look for Hill to make an impact as the Cowboys take on the Broncos on Saturday.
LB Calvin Bundage JR – The 6-2, 215 lb linebacker has been an effective playmaker thus far for the Cowboys in 2018 and will be relied upon to get pressure in the Bronco backfield on Saturday. Through two games he has 14 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for loss.
S Malcolm Rodriguez SO- The 6-0, 205 lbs safety will have the tough task of leading the Cowboys secondary against the talented passing attack from Rypien and company. Though Rodriguez has not amassed many personal stats, his secondary unit has allowed 143 yards on average through the air in their first two games.
This matchup is sure to prove exciting as these two teams have posted similar scores in their first two games this year and seem to have similar offensive and defensive styles. Look for the victor to get a few defensive stops early in this game, to give their offense an opportunity to gain a lead.
Turnovers, as always, will be difference makers, but they will be especially impacting in a matchup where one or two missed offensive opportunities could prove to be the difference. This contest will be used as a measuring stick for both teams, look for both squads to be fired up and ready to play on Saturday.