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Three and Out: How OSU Can Flip the Script Defensively



The Cowboys desperately need a bounce-back win and they need to get it against a familiar foe who they’ve dominated for nearly a decade. But if you’ve watched most of those contests, you’d know they’ve been anything but one-sided as of late. During the last four meetings, it was a single-digit game in the fourth quarter.

So, to keep the streak alive and to right this season’s ship, Oklahoma State needs a good showing on the road. Here are three important numbers to keep an eye on Saturday night in Lubbock.


Last Saturday, the pass-happy Red Raiders reached 200 yards on the ground in the 27-24 win over Houston. The reason that’s significant is because Tech hasn’t rushed for 200 in two seasons – even with the dual threat of Pat Mahomes captaining its offense. The 6.0 yards per carry is number it also didn’t reach in all of 2016.

And the Red Raiders did it the traditional way behind a 1-2 running back punch of Justin Stockton and Tre King. The two combined for those 200 yards on 10.5 per carry. Tech is not a power running team after one non-conference result but Glenn Spencer’s crew, which gave up 244 yards on the ground to Tulsa and 238, will really have to respect the run without getting burned by Tech’s prolific passing attack.


The Cowboys, who finished 2016 plus-11 in turnover margin — good for second in the conference and T10 nationally — sit a minus-1 in that department through four games. That’s eighth in the Big 12. The conference’s leader in turnover margin is tonight’s host. The Red Raiders are plus-7 in turnover margin which is good for second place in the country. Tech has only given up one fumble and one interception.

Last week, Oklahoma State lost the takeaway battle by three at home. It can’t afford to lose it on the road. OSU’s defense needs to return to form in forcing takeaways to give its offense more opportunities against an apparently improved Tech defense.


Nic Shimonek has been sacked seven times in three games, a sack rate of 5.3 percent. Oklahoma State’s defense has not wreaked the havoc on opposing QBs that most might have expected with such a deep D-line. This should be a chance for the Cowboys to make some hay.

Oklahoma State has also not been good at getting off the field on third downs this year. But that is mainly the result of two games (Tulsa and TCU) in which it faced two mobile quarterbacks. Shimonek does not have the wheels of Pat Mahomes. He doesn’t have Mason Rudolph’s wheels. So if OSU can get the Raiders into third-and-long and pin its ears back, this could look like a whole different defense against Tech.


It’s going to be a crazy, fun atmosphere in Lubbock tonight and Oklahoma State desperately needs a win. If the Cowboys can limit mistakes, get after the QB and win the turnover battle, it will go a long way toward righting its season.

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