No. 2 Cowboys face final road test at Iowa St
It is easy to look ahead to Dec. 3 and envision second-ranked
Oklahoma State hosting rival Oklahoma with a spot in the BCS
championship game on the line.
To reach the annual Bedlam game unbeaten, the Cowboys must first
take care of Iowa State on the road Friday night.
”I know it’s easy for people to look ahead to the Bedlam game,
but we’re staying really focused,” Oklahoma State fullback David
Paulsen said. ”The rankings are just a number right now. We just
have to prove them right.”
The Cowboys (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) are favored to beat the Cyclones
(5-4, 2-4) in their final road game of the season and set up the
showdown with the hated Sooners. Iowa State is a 27-point
Oklahoma State is where it is because of an offense that has
been so explosive that Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads dubbed it
scary. The Cowboys rank second nationally with 51.7 points per
game, a number they’ve topped against league opponents in the each
of the past three weeks.
Oklahoma State pounded a good Baylor team 59-24, survived a
memorable shootout with No. 16 Kansas State 52-45 and routed Texas
Tech in Lubbock 66-6 a week ago, the Red Raiders looking a far cry
from the team that went on the road and upset the Sooners.
The Cowboys insist they’re not overlooking the Cyclones.
”It doesn’t matter who it is, you can’t overlook any team in
the Big 12 or in college football in general,” said Oklahoma State
quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has put himself in the Heisman
Trophy conversation with 31 TD passes. ”They’ll sneak up on you
and next you know, the goals you set aside are not there anymore.
We’ll be focused. We’ll be dialed in.”
For Iowa State to have any shot at an upset, it will have to
find a way to slow down Weeden and star receiver Justin Blackmon.
And there is also Cowboys running back Joseph Randle, who has
rushed for 993 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Rhoads knows that his Cyclones are going to have to get some
breaks – and then a few more after that – to have a chance.
”We’ve got to play our best game, and there have to be some
things that adversely affect them. We can’t go out and play our
game and go up and down with this football team,” Rhoads said.
Iowa State has won two straight and had an extra week of
preparation for the Cowboys. But in a game that will likely be a
shootout, the Cyclones have concerns on offense.
The switch to freshman quarterback Jared Barnett helped Iowa
State stun Texas Tech 41-7. But Barnett led the offense to just 13
points in a narrow three-point win over struggling Kansas on Nov.
5, and the Cyclones had trouble scoring in blowout losses to Texas
There is, however, proof that Rhoads is capable of putting his
teams in position for unlikely wins. He led Iowa State to upset
wins at Nebraska in 2009 and at Texas last season. Four years ago,
when he was the defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh, the Panthers
beat No. 2 West Virginia to spoil the Mountaineers’ hopes of a
national title shot.
Rhoads concocted a plan that held Pat White and the nation’s
second-best rushing attack to 104 yards in a 13-9 win that threw
the 2007 title chase into chaos.
He is coming off a bye week spent focusing on Weeden and the
”Anything is possible,” he said. ”You have got to tackle
extremely well. You’ve got to take the ball away from their
offense. You’ve got to get maybe a defensive score or a special
teams score. A lot of things have to happen in a game like this.
But who’s to say they can’t?”