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The Six Shooter: Six pregame thoughts on OSU vs. Kansas

STILLWATER — With Oklahoma State set to host Kansas at 11 a.m. Saturday in the new Cowboy Battalion uniforms, a bigger weapon seems necessary. Alas, this Six Shooter will have to do:


Matchup that Matters

OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders vs. Kansas defensive backs

Everyone is talking about how bad Kansas is against the run, and what OSU running back Chuba Hubbard could potentially do to them.

It’s all fair and it’s all accurate. There’s also the chance that Kansas sells out to stop the run. Might not work, but still, it will lead to one-on-one opportunities for OSU receivers.

Particularly when it comes to run-pass option reads, Sanders could end up finding a lot of good opportunities to go to the air. Kansas’ secondary probably has the most talented players on the defense, but that’ snot saying much for a unit that ranks 123rd in total defense.

With so much focus on Hubbard, Sanders will need to take advantage of the favorable throwing opportunities he’s given.


Cowboy in the Crosshairs

Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez

Considered the most reliable tackler on the team, Rodriguez will often find himself in pursuit of Kansas running back Pooka Williams. Pooka’s numbers haven’t been as shiny as his freshman season, but he’s still a dangerous weapon in space.

The key to containing him is getting him down when a defender gets a hand on him. That’s where Rodriguez comes in.


Number to Know

53.0 percent

The rate at which opposing offenses are converting third downs against Kansas.

In case you’re not one of those analytics nerds, that’s more than half.

It’s also the second-worst percentage in Division I. OSU’s offense has been mediocre on third down and is converting 40.7 percent of its tries. If the law of averages applies itself on Saturday, the Cowboys should see a bump in that conversion rate.


Against the Spread

OSU minus-17.5

I thought about addressing the over/under of 67.5 here, but I always take the over, so the element of surprise is out. The Pokes are favored by 17.5, and I really don’t have a good feeling about that number.

In the newspaper, I picked OSU to win easily, but that was a decision made Tuesday. As the week has gone on, I feel less comfortable that the Cowboys will actually cover. It has less to do with what I expect from OSU, and more what I think the Jayhawks are capable of. They’ve found a way to keep themselves in some games no one expected them to be in.

But my word is my bond, so I’ll take the Pokes and lay the points.


Cheez-Its are Bigger in Texas

OK, so the bowl prediction segment still needs a good name, but for the moment, this one fits.

With a win: Texas Bowl. A win still keeps bigger bowls like the Alamo in view, but the middle tier of the conference is so jumbled right now, it’s hard to see the Cowboys getting to the front of that pack.

With a loss: Cheez-It Bowl. Even if OSU finishes 7-5, the Texas Bowl could be a possibility, but the percentages suggest a slip to this tasty bowl in Phoenix.


1 Wild Prediction

Spencer Sanders has his first game of 400 total yards

Seems a little odd to say it at this point in the season, but the Cowboys have yet to reach the 300-yard mark in the air. Kansas’ defense is better against the pass, giving up an average of 237.9 yards per game.

As mentioned above, the Jayhawks’ focus to slow down Hubbard could open some passing lanes for Sanders and lead to a career day, with some combination of yardage totaling 400. His best total-yardage performance to this point was 377 yards (268 passing, 109 rushing) at Texas.

(Wild Prediction record: Season: 1-8; All-time, 3-32)

Related Photos
Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) rushes during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the TCU Horned Frogs at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.,  Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. OSU won 34-27. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) rushes during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the TCU Horned Frogs at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. OSU won 34-27. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9ef24799754d2a72c94a9048f4b0c340.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) rushes during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the TCU Horned Frogs at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. OSU won 34-27. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) rushes during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the TCU Horned Frogs at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. OSU won 34-27. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) rushes during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the TCU Horned Frogs at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. OSU won 34-27. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Scott Wright

A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and... Read more ›

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