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2018 Game V: Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State Football Preview

Time to Knock Some Heads in Boone Pickens’ House!

Oklahoma State v Iowa State
Tie Goes to the RECEIVER!
Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

2018 Game V: Iowa State (1-3, 0-2) vs. Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1)

Date: Saturday October 6, 2018

Time: 2:30 P.M. CST

Location: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK

Capacity: 56,790

Line: Oklahoma State -10

Television: ESPN2

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

OSU Game Notes

SB Nation Website - Cowboys Ride for Free

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Call the FBI for a search warrant! We are on the outlook to find an identity for the Iowa State offense. That game last week looked downright putrid, and to make matters worse – running back and workhorse David Montgomery went down with an injury.

Now, before I jump on my soap box and hammer down on the ineffectiveness of the ISU offense, let me say one thing – this coaching staff will make adjustments.

My first order of business is taking Matthew Eaton out of the starting lineup. He has been nothing but a wet blanket, falling over his own feet, and get this – has caught 13 balls for an amazingly low 71 yards. Like I said last week, the Cyclones have a tremendous talent in Hakeem Butler, and with him playing Batman, we need to find a Robin. Last year it was Marchie Murdock (and at times Trever Ryen). Would the real Robin please stand up?

If there is one thing to harp on – it is that Campbell has been stubborn in his offensive approach – which is getting the ground game going. It has not worked. ISU ranks dead last in the Big 12 conference in both rushing yards AND yards per carry. We have a good one in Montgomery, but the offense is going to need to focus on getting the passing game going first, then try the run game. Not the other way around.

When we last left off….

The defense will continue to keep ISU in every game on their schedule, and from the outside looking in, if the Clones had even an average offensive output, they would have beaten TCU. One of my keys to success was winning the turnover battle – and the defense did that.

Although it was a hard-fought 17-14 loss on the road to the Horned Frogs, the Cyclones showed promise to salvage this season. The 3-man front held TCU to 2.5 yards per carry, and forced QB Shawn Robinson beat us. He came through with flying colors for TCU, converting key third-down throws and managing the tempo and clock effectively in their favor.

I’m not quite sure what the offensive game plan was. Quarterback Zeb Noland looked uncomfortable in the pocket, and his timing was off on almost every pass. His strong arm proved to be too much on some throws, as there were times he needed to take some off, and it hurt us.

The running game did get going – but not until the fourth quarter, when ISU ran on 10 of 13 plays for a positive 83 yards on a touchdown drive. When plays broke down, Noland was a one-legged man in a foot-race, and the Cyclones need a scrambling quarterback who can create yards with his feet – especially on third downs..

Oklahoma State Tidbits

Missouri State v Oklahoma State
Look at that FLOW!
Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

The Cowboys graduated a bevy of seniors, and were picked to finish FIFTH in the Big 12 Conference this year. Their claim to fame has always been their passing attack, but this year it has been the running game that has flourished. They have one of the best in the nation in Justice Hill, as the junior ranks in the top-10 nationally in both rushing and yards per carry.

The defensive line is similar to the ’85 Bears, as they lead the nation in sacks, and it isn’t even close! Their version of Richard Dent is Jordan Brailford who leads the nation with 7 sacks, while the unit as a whole has 47 tackles-for-loss.

All in all, Oklahoma State is 4-1, with their only hiccup a 17-41 loss against inconsistent Texas Tech at home. The Red Raiders dominated that game, as they were uber-efficient on 3rd downs, ran the ball for over 220 yards and held the ball for over 41 minutes.

The Series

This matchup has been a dandy to watch the last three years, as Iowa State has held their own, gaining second-half double-digit leads in two of them. Last year’s game was an absolute shootout, as Okie State survived in Ames 49-42, only after the #Big12Refs screwed Iowa State on a suspect interception call to end the game.

Zeb Noland made his first appearance in that game and came out of the gate firing, completing 17 of 28 passes for 263 yards. Lets hope Noland’s arm gets back on track in Stillwater.

OSU leads the all-time series 31-18-3, and ISU hasn’t beaten OSU on the road since 2000, when this happened.

Iowa State Offense

There are a ton of question marks when it comes to the Iowa State offense, and all the fingers are pointed at the man calling the plays – Coach Matt Campbell. The TCU game appeared to display a game plan of dropping Zeb back in the pocket and trying to dink and dunk his way in the short- to intermediate-routes. TCU jammed the outside receivers, and the safeties took the top off. The middle of the field appeared to be open for business, yet ISU only attempted one pass, ONE PASS longer than 20 yards.

First Key to Victory – Keep Noland’s Jersey Clean

Like we talked about earlier, OSU leads the nation in sacks per game, a FULL SACK per contest more than any other program. It will be paramount for the front five of ISU to communicate and stay on the same page with blitz pickups and stunts, and I could see an extra man back there just to give Noland some breathing room. If Iowa State has to swap out a receiving target to help block, that is fine – and Sam Seonbuchner is up for the job!

Last year in this game Noland excelled at the throws between the linebacker and safety, and that is exactly where ISU can make its money. Look for Deshaunte Jones, Tarique Milton and Landen Akers to eat it up in that zone, as OSU is dealing with multiple injuries in the back end.

Second Key to Victory – David Montgomery in Uniform

I hate to say this, but I don’t think Iowa State can make this a game without their do-it-all running back David Montgomery. He adds a different dimension to the offensive attack with his elusiveness and ability to break tackles. He played one of his best games against OSU in ’17, scoring 3 touchdowns, and was a real force in the passing game. He is questionable to play, but like Campbell said “There’s no player that would want to be on the field more than that guy. He loves football. If he can play, he’ll play.”

Oklahoma State Defense

The Cowboys fired long-time defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer in the offseason, and hired away Jim Knowles from Duke. So far it has paid big dividends, as OSU leads the conference in rushing defense and sacks. The 4-2-5 scheme displays a ton of speed for the Cowboys, and it all starts with the boys up front.

Oklahoma State is led by defensive end Jordan Brailford, who leads the Big 12 with 7 sacks and 10.5 tackles-for-loss. The junior and preseason All-Big 12 first-teamer has wreaked havoc for the Cowboys, and the trio of Brailford, Jarrell Owens and Mike Scott combine for the only team in the country that has three players with three sacks or more.

Missouri State v Oklahoma State
DE Jordan Brailford
Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

The Cowboys had four players make their first career starts on defense last week, and have been hit by the injury bug, as starting linebacker Calvin Bundage and cornerback A.J. Green are questionable to play Saturday.

They are led in the second line of defense by Justin Phillips, who has 19 career starts, and leads the team with 36 tackles. If there has been one downside to the Cowboys, it has been their inability to stop the pass, as they are giving up the 2nd most passing yards per game in the Big 12.

I saw a ton of missed tackles in the Texas Tech loss, as well as open windows downfield. OSU plays three safeties at all times, and are led by converted linebacker Kenneth Edison-McGruder. They have three other sophomores in the secondary, and have been hounded with multiple pass interference penalties so far.

The Verdict – OSU

Iowa State has struggled mightily to move the ball, and needs to the right the ship. The Cowboy pass rush scares me, but the fact that Iowa State is at least average in pass protection helps. There are voids in this defense, and Noland has the ability to exploit them.

Iowa State Defense

If there was one takeaway from last week’s game it was the fact that Iowa State’s defense can hold their own against anybody. So far, they have held opponents to 20 points per game, and are third in the conference in rush, pass and total defense.

In fact, over the last 15 games they have only allowed a total of 100 points (6.7) in the second half, and have shut out opponents in the fourth quarter in 7 of their last 12. Needless to say, coordinator Jon Heacock is worth every penny of his offseason raise, and has made tremendous in-game adjustments.

Iowa State will be filled with the task of slowing down All-Big 12 running back Justice Hill and a potent rushing attack, and I say bring it on! Ray Lima and company welcome that challenge, and the defensive line will go to work!

Linebacker Willie Harvey played one of his best games last week, and look for him and Mike Rose to eat it up in the tackle column. With OSU’s ability to take deep shots down the field the safeties will need to play deeper, so all three linebackers need to play flawless in catching a slippery Justice Hill.

Safety Greg Eisworth is a grown-ass man (ranking fifth in Big 12 in tackles), and his counterpart Braxton Lewis has come into his own as of late. Along with corners Payne and Peavy, both will need to keep their head on a swivel, as OSU loves to take advantage of the play-action pass.

Oklahoma State Offense

The Cowboys graduated one of their top pitch-and-catch duos in Mason Rudolph and James Washington, but still have an All-American type player in running back Justice Hill. In years past they relied heavily on the passing game, but have switched to a more balanced approach.

OSU ranks at the top of the conference with 231 rushing yards per game, and Hill has an absurd 7.5 yards per carry. He leads the Big 12 in both yards and touchdowns, and breaks ankles for a living. The Cowboys collectively have four runners over 100 yards on the year, and their short-yardage back is J.D. King, who led all Big 12 freshmen in rushing yards a year ago.

The offensive line is full of veterans, and are led by Preseason All-Big 12 guard Marcus Keyes. One thing to watch – left tackle Arlington Hambright is questionable to play.

Former walk-on Taylor Cornelius beat out heralded Hawaii transfer Dru Brown in the offseason to take the keys at quarterback. He threw for 728 yards in his first two games, and was uber efficient last week against Kansas (who isn’t), breaking school records for passing efficiency. Cornelius has a big frame at 6-foot-6, and there isn’t a throw the senior can’t make.

The receiving corps lost one of their most athletic playmakers midway through the season, as Jalen McCleskey decided to transfer. The senior, who was third in the conference in receptions per game in 2016, apparently thought he wasn’t getting enough targets….. From the words of Justin Timberlake – “Cry Me a River.”

The Cowboys have plenty of talent in the receiver room, as sophomore Tylan Wallace has accounted for 100+ yards in each of his last four contests, and is second in the conference with 115 yards per game. Tyron Johnson is the deep threat, as he accounts for 22.5 yards per catch.

Verdict – ISU

Strength against Strength! This one will be a tough matchup, but I really think the Cyclone defense can hang with the Cowboys. OSU will get theirs, but with ISU’s ability to stop the run with a 3-3-5 stack, and the fact our cornerbacks are some of the best in the conference, I’m going to give the slight nod to the Cyclones.

Special Teams

The Cowboys have surprisingly flipped the script in the special teams department. After ranking as one of the worst units in all of college football a year ago, OSU has turned things around, already blocking two kicks against Boise State, and are competent in the return game.

They have one of the most experienced kickers in Matt Ammendola, as he has made 20 of his last 21 attempts, and the Cowboys lead the Big 12 in net punting.

ISU has a sure-fire kicker themselves, as Connor Assalley is a perfect 7-for-7 on the year. His name will most certainly be called upon on Saturday.

Kene Nwangwu now has back-to-back games with 40+ yard kickoff returns, and has propelled ISU into the top return average in the Conference.

Verdict – OSU

Not much you don’t like about OSU here, as they have a strong kicking game and are deadly in blocked kicks. In fact, since 2013 no program has more than the Cowboys.

Winning Scale from 1 to 10

This game will be a shootout, but not as high scoring as last year’s affair. I give ISU’s chances of winning similar to a coin flip, and see it a better shot than most are giving the Cyclones. It will come down to a few plays at the end (just like last year).

Final Analysis

Again, a lot of points will be put on the board, and I look for Zeb Noland to get back on track. It sounds like David Montgomery is back to a full participant in practice, and that bodes well for the Cyclones. Obviously, the offensive line needs to improve and communicate effectively for an ISU win.

Oklahoma State has a firepower offensive attack and can beat you in a multitude of ways. While ISU’s defense is stellar, the Cowboys and Oklahoma are the only teams in the last 12 games to score more than 20 against ISU. Justice Hill will get his, and Mike Gundy’s hair will ride off into the sunset.

Final Score

Iowa State 33

Oklahoma State 40

Let us know your thoughts below


What are ISU’s chances of pulling off the Upset in Stillwater?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Our offense is inept, this one is a Rout
    (21 votes)
  • 19%
    I think Noland gets back in his Groove, but we fall short
    (24 votes)
  • 14%
    OSU wins courtesy of another #Big12Refs blunder
    (18 votes)
  • 48%
    Iowa State shocks all the Media Pundits and pulls er out
    (60 votes)
123 votes total Vote Now