Broncos come to Stillwater to face the Cowboys in matchup of explosive offenses
When No. 17 Boise State travels to No. 24 Oklahoma State on Saturday, it offers more than a chance to see a clash between two Top 25 teams. It also is a chance to see two dominant teams who play a fun brand of football match up against one another.
The Broncos (2-0) have overwhelmed opponents on both sides of the ball early in the season. Their average margin of victory over Troy and Connecticut has been 45.5 points per game. Comparisons are already being drawn nationally between Boise State and the 2017 UCF team that went 13-0.
The Cowboys (2-0) are following a similar script of domination. They recorded wins over Missouri State and South Alabama by an average margin of 41.5 points. Oklahoma State has notched three straight 10-win seasons and already looks very capable of making it four in a row.
This is the first meeting between Boise State and Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are 13-5-1 all-time against teams currently in the Mountain West Conference.
Boise State at Oklahoma State
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma State -2.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Can Brett Rypien maintain his hot start?
Boise State's offense has always been at its best with a dominant quarterback. Rypien certainly fits the bill. He is off to a hot start, posting a pass efficiency rating of 214.5 through the first two games. That ranks fifth nationally among FBS quarterbacks and is enough to have Rypien's name start popping up on some Heisman Trophy watch lists.
An experienced offensive line combined with an abundance of talent in the backfield and at receiver has only made Rypien's job easier. In wins over Troy and Connecticut, he threw for a total 667 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 73.2 percent of his passes. If he can maintain his current pace, Rypien could reach 4,000 passing yards by the final game of the regular season.
He will certainly test an Oklahoma State pass defense that's allowed just 143.0 yards per game so far – ranking 20th among FBS teams in that category.
2. How much damage can Taylor Cornelius and Justice Hill do?
If Oklahoma State was supposed to take a step back this fall, someone forgot to give Cornelius and Hill the memo. The duo have been tearing it up and keeping the Cowboys galloping full speed ahead on offense.
Cornelius has been impressive as the successor to Mason Rudolph. In his first two starts, the senior has tallied 728 passing yards – a school record for a quarterback in their first two starts. Hill, a Doak Walker Award candidate, is averaging a robust 8.1 yards per carry through his first two games. He also leads the Big 12 with three rushing touchdowns. Hill has rushed for at least 100 yards in eight of his last 12 games.
Their production has allowed Oklahoma State to rack up 1,349 combined yards in wins over Missouri State and South Alabama.
3. Offensive fireworks ahead
One thing is certain with Boise State and Oklahoma State clashing on the football field. The scoreboard is going to get lit up early and often.
Both teams regularly rank among the top 10 scoring offenses nationally each season. The story is no different this fall. Through two games, the Cowboys lead the nation in total offense (674.5 ypg) and rank eighth in scoring offense (56.5 ppg). The Broncos, meanwhile, rank fourth in total offense (617.0 ypg) and fifth in scoring offense (59.0 ppg).
Oklahoma State throws opponents off with a no-huddle, up-tempo offense. The Cowboys have run 89.5 plays per game in their first two games this season. Boise State employs shifts and motions in bunches to create and exploit mismatches. It will make for an engaging chess match of offensive schemes.
This will be a fun game. There's no other way to put it. Boise State and Oklahoma State are both legit Top 25 teams. They both have strong defenses and potent offenses, which mean this game should go right down to the wire if both teams play to their full potential. The Broncos are not a team who will be intimidated facing a Big 12 foe on its own turf. Boise State has enough experience and talent to edge the Cowboys for a season-defining win.
Prediction: Boise State 37, Oklahoma State 35
— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.