Oklahoma St.-Texas Tech Preview
For Oklahoma State’s players and coaches, extending an unbeaten run has taken a backseat to helping a grieving community recover from last weekend’s tragedy.
The 12th-ranked Cowboys will try to at least temporarily turn their focus back to football when they go after the third 8-0 start in school history Saturday at Texas Tech.
The team spent time participating in vigils and visiting the injured in hospitals this week after four people were killed and several others were hurt when a woman drove into a crowd during the school’s homecoming parade last Saturday.
Oklahoma State considered postponing the game, but ultimately decided to play and honor the victims. The Cowboys (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) were able to take care of business in a 58-10 victory over Kansas that extended their winning streak to nine.
They’re tied with fellow unbeatens No. 2 Baylor and No. 5 TCU as they try to capture their first regular-season conference title since 2011, when they last won their first eight games.
Quarterback J.W. Walsh, who had two passing touchdowns and three rushing scores Saturday, said he’s been impressed with how the community has rallied together and noted that the players will have the victims in mind for the rest of the season.
”Those people came here to support the school on homecoming and, when something like that happens, it’s very sad and makes everything mean just a little bit more," Walsh added.
Walsh is part of a two-quarterback system that has worked out well for the Cowboys, who rank 11th nationally at 40.3 points per game. The senior has completed 14 of 18 passes for 129 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception and also has rushed for 114 yards and six scores.
Sophomore starter Mason Rudolph has completed 64.5 percent of his attempts for 2,197 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven picks. He didn’t throw an interception for the first time in four games Saturday, going 20 of 26 for 305 yards and a score.
"The reason that we’re able to have success with both of those players to this point is because they’re both great human beings," coach Mike Gundy said. "They’re unselfish. They’re team players."
Jeff Carr led the Cowboys with 51 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Jayhawks, and fellow freshman Chris Carson has run for a team-high 339 yards and three scores on the season.
Oklahoma State, averaging 3.1 yards per carry in Big 12 action, should be able to get the ground game going against a Texas Tech team that allows the third-most rushing yards per game (281.5) in the nation.
The Red Raiders also have the eighth-worst scoring defense (40.1 ppg), though they own the fifth-best scoring offense (46.6). They rank third in total offense (600.3 ypg) despite posting a season-low 436 yards in last Saturday’s 63-27 loss at then-No. 17 Oklahoma.
Texas Tech (5-3, 2-3) has been particularly prolific in Lubbock, averaging 61.5 points and scoring 50 or more in four home games for the first time since 2005.
"Our team loves to play at home," coach Cliff Kingsbury told the school’s official website. "(With) only two home games left, being Halloween, being that it’s a blackout, I think it’ll be an awesome atmosphere. I think it’ll be very raucous and I know our guys will be fired up."
Patrick Mahomes II hopes to bounce back after going 26 of 40 for a season-low 233 yards and a career-high four interceptions against the Sooners. The sophomore, however, has thrown for 401.5 yards per game with 15 TDs and one pick at home.
DeAndre Washington gives the Red Raiders a threat in the running game, ranking fourth in the Big 12 with 104.6 yards per game and tying for second with eight touchdowns. The senior had 85 yards on 13 carries in a 45-35 loss at Oklahoma State last season.
The Cowboys, though, lead the Big 12 in total defense at 316.3 yards allowed per game while giving up a league-low 135.1 on the ground. They’re coming off one of their best defensive efforts of the season, limiting Kansas to nine first downs and 221 total yards.
Oklahoma State has won the past six meetings by an average of 25.0 points.