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Schedule Storylines: OSU Heads to Texas Tech Looking for Some Payback

We will know a lot more about this OSU squad — for better or worse — by its trip to Lubbock.

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As we continue our summer series previewing Oklahoma State’s schedule, we come to the Red Raiders of Texas Tech who ruined OSU’s Big 12-opening weekend in Stillwater last season by handing the Cowboys’ their first loss.

Now the Pokes head to Lubbock on Oct. 5 — it’s currently TBD, but feels like it’s destined to be a night game — in search of a little payback.

Here are four storylines to keep an eye on before the tortillas start to fly.

1. The Alan Bowman Show

Last year, Oklahoma State treated Alan Bowman to his first Big 12 win in his first ever road game. Bowman and the Raiders offense hung 41 points on the Cowboys in a tilt that got out of hand late. The true frosh slung it for 397 yards, two scores and two interceptions, and he didn’t slow down after that.

Bowman went 4-3 as a starter before a lung injury derailed his rookie season. Tech owned a 3-point halftime lead at home over Kyler Murray and Oklahoma, but Bowman went down in the second quarter and was done for the year. Tech fell to the Big 12 champs 51-46.

In eight games, Bowman amassed 2,638 yards, 17 TDs and seven INTs. His 69.4 completion percentage was the best by a Red Raider since 2012 and led the Big 12. His 329.8 yards per game was behind only WVU’s Will Grier in the league.

Now Bowman has been fully cleared to play and looks ready to thrive in a system brought by new head coach David Wells from Utah State, which finished second in the FBS (behind only OU) in scoring last year.

Can new OC David Yost replicate recent success in Lubbock and his own at Utah State? If so, things won’t be any easier for Jim Knowles and Co. this go-around.

2. Run Game Renaissance?

While the new coaching staff brings a proven offensive philosophy, expect to see some things change, namely a renewed focus on the ground game from what we’ve grown accustomed to under Kliff Kingsbury.

In 2018, Tech’s leading rusher was a quarterback — Jeff Duffey, who spelled Bowman and only played eight games. Its three top running backs combined for just 977 yards. Overall, the Red Raiders finished dead last in the league in total rushing yards and ahead of only Iowa State in yards per game and yards per attempt.

But incoming Utah grad transfer Armand Shyne could be the answer to fit Yost’s system which features on a physical, between-the-tackles runner.

At Big 12 Media Days, Wells said he expects big things from Shyne.

“I expect Armand to be in competition for the running back job immediately,” said Wells. “He’s big. He’s physical. He’s a one-cut guy and I think he’s a physical running back.”

Look for backs like Ta’Zhawn Henry and SaRodorick Thompson to get some burn, as well. The two freshmen combined for 446 yards and 11 rushing scores last year and should take a step forward.

3. A Tech Defensive Turnaround Will Start with Takeaways

Wells also brought with him his co-defensive coordinator, Keith Patterson, from Utah State. Patterson, who like David Wells is an Oklahoma native, cut his teeth in the Oklahoma high school ranks before spending several years on staff at Tulsa. He’s also had stops at Pitt, West Virginia and Arizona State before his lone year at Utah State.

Patterson has his work cut out for him trying to redefine what Texas Tech defense means. The Raiders have finished no better than seventh in the Big 12 in scoring defense each of the last nine years.

He will also be without All-Big 12 linebacker Dakota Allen (NFL) and all-conference safety Justus Parker, who will miss his final year due to a PED suspension handed down by the NCAA in July. But Tech returns leading tackler, linebacker Jordyn Brooks returns as well as Freshman All-American corner Adrian Frye who led the conference in interceptions (five) last year despite only starting four games.

Patterson, who emphasizes forced turnovers, will look to playmakers like Frye. Utah state tied for the FBS lead with 32 takeaways last year while Tech finished T-79th with just 18. If Tech wants to make up ground on defense, getting closer to the former would be a huge step.

4. What Will We Have Learned about OSU?

At the conclusion of OSU’s trip to Lubbock we will officially be halfway through the regular season and the Pokes will head into a timely bye week. And we should know what kind of team this is for better or for worse.

We will have a six-game sample size of the Spencer Sanders era, or Dru Brown (or both). We should have a good idea of how well Sean Gleeson has made the leap from the FCS level and how well Jim Knowles and Co. have bounced back.

Have the issues of discipline and toughness been worked out? Was all of Gundy’s talk about a renewed passion for football substantiated, or was it just summertime coach speak?

Of all the questions facing this team in August, most will be answered, at least to some degree of clarity by mid-October.

Can the Cowboys go into the bye a respectable 4-2 or even 5-1? If so, that sets up well for a big time (and much-needed) bounce-back season for Gundy with four of his remaining six games taking place in Stillwater.

 

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