Oklahoma State has enjoyed a fast start to the season, rolling over a couple of lesser opponents, and faces its biggest test this Saturday in a road trip to Pittsburgh.
What we can actually glean from those first two blowout wins is debatable. But if there was one concern I had about this team before the season, it was whether or not it would mess around in these non-conference games and make them more interesting than they needed to be. Entering Week 3, I’d have to give the Cowboys a passing grade in that department.
OSU flexed its offensive muscle early and often making both results seem more like foregone conclusions well before halftime. Let’s take a look these opening quarters and how Oklahoma State’s dominance set it up for the rest of the game.
|2017||1st Quarter score||1st Quarter Yards||Points per drive||PPD Allowed|
Against Tulsa, the Cowboys scored on its first three possessions going up 21-0 before some people found their seats on that early Thursday night contest. It was a little bit of a slower start against South Alabama with the first two possessions resulting in a punt and a field goal but OSU’s defense was dominant throughout the evening and its offense caught up quickly.
For reference, let’s take a look at how the Cowboys fared last season — when they played five games that were decided by seven points or fewer.
|2016||1st Quarter Score||1st Quarter Yards||Points per drive||PPD Allowed|
OSU showed favorable returns for the season in first-quarter scoring, even winning Weeks 1 and 2 at a higher clip (42-0 in first quarters) than this season. But OSU was outscored in the opening period of three-straight games to start conference play — Baylor, Texas and Iowa State. OSU went 2-1 in those games.
Fast starts are important but don’t necessarily guarantee success. The Cowboys went up 14-zip against the Chippewas of middle Michigan last year but some mistakes and sloppy play let the MAC team back in.
The ability to put these non-conference foes away early has allowed for rest for the 1s and 2s and more in-game experience for the 3s and 4s. And it should give this team confidence moving forward. When OSU heads to Pittsburgh, a fast start will by important, especially on the road against a Power 5 team that’s already been tested much more than the Cowboys have this season.