The Cowboys fell in a shootout last week versus their in-state rivals, the Oklahoma Sooners, which virtually eliminated them from national championship contention and made their path to the conference title game tougher. Earlier in the day, West Virginia knocked the Cyclones from their perch at the top of the conference standings.
The emotional letdown could make for some sloppy football in Ames on Saturday.
Oklahoma State at Iowa State
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2
Spread: Oklahoma State -6.5
Three Things to Watch
1. James Washington’s health
An injury knocked Oklahoma State’s star wideout from the game in the second half versus Oklahoma. Assuming he can play versus ISU, how effective will he be? The Cowboys bogged down on offense without Washington (above, right) late in the game.
While OSU has many weapons for Mason Rudolph to throw to, Washington’s importance to this offense cannot be disputed. He leads the nation with 125.9 receiving yards per game and is second in total yards (1,133) even though he’s tied for 31st in catches (52). But his big-play ability (21.8 ypc) is why he’s such a weapon and a threat to score (9 TDs, tied for fifth) whenever he touches the ball.
2. Attack of the ‘Clones defense
Iowa State plays a defensive scheme that translates well to stymying high-octane offenses. The Cyclones often drop eight defenders into coverage, clogging up the passing lanes for teams that like to wing the ball around.
Rudolph will want to avoid the frustrations that plagued Baker Mayfield earlier this season when ISU upset the Sooners.
Are these teams sulking after last week’s losses?
This could turn out to be a bigger problem for OSU head coach Mike Gundy, whose team had higher aspirations to start the season. A win here puts ISU in great position to play in the Big 12 championship – that’s a nice incentive for a team expected to be one of the conference’s worst in the preseason.
The hangover threat for Oklahoma State in this game is real. The Bedlam rivalry games tend to take a lot out of both teams, and the Cowboys had to feel gutted by yet another win that slipped away.
Iowa State is not a team you want to play if you’re not in the right frame of mind. Matt Campbell’s squad always plays hard, and the quality of the coaching ranks up there with any other team in the Big 12.
ISU will look to exploit the Cowboys’ inconsistent secondary by getting the ball into the hands of receivers Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler. If the Cyclones force the Cowboys to string together methodical drives, they might just need a couple of big plays from their pass catchers and running back David Montgomery to take down OSU in front of the home crowd at Jack Trice Stadium.
Prediction: Iowa State 27, Oklahoma State 24
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.