Five Keys to an Oklahoma State Victory at Iowa State

first_imgThe Cowboys, as double-digit underdogs, are looking to avoid losing three straight conference games for the first time since 2014. And they’re doing that in a venue, in Jack Trice Stadium, that still send shivers up the spines of OSU fans.Looking at the last three weeks from both teams gives one little confidence that Oklahoma State can pull out the upset. But if the Cowboys want to increase their odds, here are five things we’ll need to see from them.1. Clean Up the TOsWe’ve covered this over and over again, but until something changes, this should be item numero uno on Mike Gundy’s to-do list.After not committing a turnover in Week 1 at Oregon State (a game that appears to define the word aberration), OSU gave it away twice in four straight games, and then eight times between losses at Texas Tech and Baylor.Fourteen of those 16 are credited to Spencer Sanders, further adding to the stress of taking the reins of an offense that has become synonymous with big numbers and success.Gundy has implied that the issue is a priority for his coaching staff and even guaranteed an improvement. Let’s hope we see it on Saturday.2. Play into the AtmosphereWith the sour taste of a homecoming loss still lingering, the Cowboys will play the part of homecoming guest on Saturday. The Cyclones always seem to play the Cowboys tough at home, but this home crowd may be as rowdy as any OSU has ever faced in Ames.The Cyclones are riding a school-record five straight Big 12 wins at home and have won nine of the last 10 in Ames. They enter on a current overall streak of three straight wins. At least as far back as the start of the Big 12, Iowa State has never hosted OSU on such a win streak.I’ve heard that some teams can feed off of a road crowd’s negative energy. I’m not sure how much that actually helps you, but if it offers a little extra motivation, I’m sure Mike Gundy will take it.3. Let ‘Er RipIf OSU drops its third straight, we are no longer in the This is a disappointing season category, we’ve moved up a notch or two on the panic meter.The rest of the schedule goes likes this: TCU, Kansas, at West Virginia, Oklahoma, Bowl Game (?). I expect a win over Kansas (I think) but I don’t know how confident I feel against TCU, especially if OSU is riding a three-game skid. West Virginia on the road doesn’t help me sleep at night and Bedlam calls for a double dose of Ambien.So this is a must-win for the Cowboys. Throw it all out there. Take risks when you need to. Open up the playbook. More fake punts, fewer handoffs up the gut on second-and-6.4. Confidence is KeyConfidence is crucial for anyone. It helps Mike Gundy weather an up-and-down season easier. It helps you do your job better. It even helps me write a better blog post. But it’s especially vital to a freshman QB who came in riding the hopes of a fan base only to draw its ire seven games in.We saw flashes on Saturday especially during the last drive of the second quarter. Sanders was checking down to Jelani Woods. He was hitting open receivers on both sides of the field. But an underthrow on a fade route to Jordan McCray turned what could have been a turning-point TD drive into potentially another ding to his confidence.But Gundy said Sanders handled himself well through that adversity, better than he had even two weeks before at Texas Tech.“Sanders is a very prideful young man,” said Gundy. “The only issue he needs to work on is thinking that he can play a perfect game. He will accept responsibility. He will tell you he is wrong. He will tell you it is his fault. He wants to play a perfect game and that is not going to happen.”As Gundy pointed out, Sanders doesn’t need to play a perfect game, but he does need more confidence and OSU’s coaching staff can help him with that by putting him situations where he can succeed.Whether it’s Mike Gundy or Sean Gleeson in charge of the headset, it’s up to the two of them to help their QB out. Roll him out on more RPOs, draw up some designed QB runs and for Pistol Pete’s sake, no more handoffs up the gut on second- and third-and-long.5. Finish the 4thIf the Cowboys want a chance at the upset this weekend, they’ll need to dig deep and come up with something that’s lacked for most of this year, an ability to finish strong.The Cowboys owned a fourth quarter lead against Baylor last Saturday before giving up 21-straight to the Bears. It won’t get any easier against ISU. The Cyclones have outscored teams in the final frame and overtime 89-33 this season, scoring on 18 of 24 possessions. That’s a +56 margin. OSU, on the other hand, has been outscored 70-45 (-25). Not great.OSU’s defense looked pretty good in the first half against Baylor, but looked pretty awful late. You have to think at least some of that is credited to fatigue as a lack of sustained drives plus some turnovers by its offense.If Oklahoma State does find itself in the thick of it late, it will take something that we’ve yet to see thus far, an ability to close the deal. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *