11/18/2011 12:32 PM
Ames, IA (Sports Network) - Fresh off arguably their most impressive performance of the season, the second-ranked and undefeated Oklahoma State Cowboys hit the road for a Big 12 Conference clash with the Iowa State Cyclones on Friday night.
Oklahoma State is 10-0 for the first time ever, and the program's seven conference wins marks a new record as well. A victory this week would clinch a share of the Big 12 title, the first for the Cowboys since 1976. Last weekend, they were completely dominant in a road game against Texas Tech, jumping out to 49-0 lead at intermission en route to a 66-6 victory.
"There is pressure," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy after the most recent romp. "Each week I know you can feel it. But it's our responsibility to manage it."
Iowa State has three games remaining on its schedule and needs only one more victory to earn bowl eligibility. Don't expect the win to come easily for head coach Paul Rhoads, however, as his Cyclones must face Oklahoma and Kansas State following this affair. ISU has won its last two outings and has been idle since a 13-10 triumph over Kansas on November 5.
"We're going to focus on the fundamentals and try to improve every aspect of our football team before we play Oklahoma State," said Rhoads after the last win. "I don't have any doubts that we're going to stay focused for the rest of the games we have this season."
Oklahoma State owns a 25-17-3 series lead over Iowa State, which includes victories in each of the last two meetings.
Someone needs to start talking about Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden as the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. The signal caller has completed a staggering 73.1 percent of his passes for 3,635 yards and 31 touchdowns against only nine interceptions.
"I wouldn't trade him for anyone in the country," Gundy said of Weeden. "I know there are some good ones out there, but I wouldn't put him on the trading block."
The QB clearly benefits from the presence of arguably the best WR in all of college football, Justin Blackmon. Through 10 games, Blackmon has caught 93 passes for 1,142 yards and 14 touchdowns. As for the ground attack, Joseph Randle (993 yards) seems to go almost unnoticed, hard to believe considering the fact that he has run for 21 scores. OSU is racking up 51.7 ppg and 565.3 total ypg, numbers that are downright scary.
Last week against Texas Tech, OSU posted 637 total yards and scored eight offensive touchdowns, including five on passes from Weeden. He completed 31- of-37 attempts for 423 yards, and Blackmon found the end zone twice. As for Randle, he scored three times.
Opponents are generating 26.3 ppg and 442.3 total ypg against Oklahoma State, which gives up the majority of points late in games when foes are attempting to climb back from huge deficits. There is room for improvement against the run, however, as OSU is yielding 4.4 yards per carry. On a positive note, the club has come up with a stellar total of 34 takeaways, including 19 interceptions, and 25 sacks have been posted.
Texas Tech tallied a mere 270 yards against Oklahoma State, which was simply dominant defensively. The fact that the Pokes permitted just 101 rushing yards on 30 attempts was key, as was their three takeaways.
Switching focus to Iowa State, it is scoring 24.0 ppg this season while permitting 392.6 total ypg. The Cyclones have notched 27 total touchdowns, including 15 rushing scores, and James White spearheads the ground attack with 618 yards and seven TDs. Steele Jantz has taken the majority of snaps for ISU to date and has thrown 10 TDs with nine interceptions, although Jared Barnett has gotten the reps lately. The team welcomes back Darius Reynolds this week, as the receiver returns from suspension in hopes of building on his six TD receptions.
Without Reynolds against Kansas two weeks ago, the Cyclones still managed to post 426 total yards, but the lone touchdown came on an 18-yard run by Aaron Horne in the second quarter. It was Barnett and not Jantz under center for the Cyclones, and he threw for 175 yards with no TDs and one INT. The signal caller was far more impressive as a runner, posting 125 yards on 22 carries.
Opponents are notching 29.8 ppg and 420.4 total ypg against Iowa State, which is allowing more than 200 ypg both on the ground and through the air. Of the 29 touchdowns that the club has allowed to opponents, 17 have been of the rushing variety. Just five interceptions and 13 sacks have been registered, numbers that are fairly low through nine outings.
The Iowa State defense deserves a great deal of credit for last weekend's win over Kansas, which finished with only 301 total yards and a single touchdown. The pass defense was particularly impressive, as the Cyclones permitted a modest total of 127 passing yards on 13 completions.
It will be important for OSU to remain focused this week, as everyone is anticipating next week's finale against rival Oklahoma in Stillwater. Put simply, there is no way Weeden and company will fall to the Cyclones, as there is simply too much at stake.
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