To get ready for Saturday's critical showdown with Oklahoma State, we exchanged five questions with Kyle Porter of the Pistols Firing Blog. You can read my responses to his questions here. Big thanks to Kyle for giving us some insight into Oklahoma State.
TB: Oklahoma State's defense is ranked pretty highly in Big 12 play, but that's from stats against the 3 worst offenses in the league and TCU without Casey Pachall. Is it all just a mirage, or has this group really improved since conference play began?
KP: I honestly have no idea. I think it's at least somewhat legitimate because we've been holding teams to really low points per drive totals without generating turnovers. However, we gave up 41 to Texas and David Ash's post-OSU stat sheet makes me think Kansas/Iowa St/TCU just have the three worst offenses in the country but maybe that's just Texas QBs being Texas QBs. One thing I do know....we're going to find out how good it is on Saturday night.
TB: It seems like OSU sort of dropped out of the national conversation after the Arizona game. Was that an especially deflating loss for a fanbase that was expecting a lot more, or was it more of an early wake-up call for a team you knew was rebuilding after losing so much talent? What are the expectations for this brutal stretch of KSU, WV, TT and OU?
KP: That was a really deflating loss because we had 15 penalties for 167 (!) yards and four turnovers. That's not to say that OSU is better than Arizona (though I think we are slightly, in a vacuum) but to not even give yourself a chance to win a game you thought you'd probably win coming into the year...really sucks. As for this KSU-WVU-Tech-OU stretch, I think 2-2 would be pretty amazing. That leaves you with Baylor in Waco to get to 8-4 which, around these parts, we consider a pretty solid season.
TB: Between Kendall Hunter and Joseph Randle, you guys have had a ton of talent at running back for a team generally thought of as one of the spread it out and throw it all over the field teams in this league. How critical is it for Gundy's team to have a good back and does he have more in the wings after Randle graduates following the 2013-14 season? I'm assuming he's not going pro next year, but with the stats he's putting up, maybe I'm wrong.
KP: I don't think he will go pro either, but I think he probably should. Not because he's the best back in the country or anything but because the shelf life of RBs is so short and he's pretty much reached the plateau for how good he's going to be in college. Another year won't benefit his professional career. To answer your first question -- Gundy and Monken both love to run the ball, in fact, most of OSU's plays are run/pass options even though they have the look of a traditional spread-it-out-leave-our-QBs-
TB: K-State has added a dimension to its offense this year with Collin Klein averaging more than 200 yards per game passing, up from less than 150 last season. In your mind, what specifically does Oklahoma State need to do against K-State's offense to slow it down?
KP: Nothing, OSU can't slow it down, nobody can. What they can do is create turnovers -- and they're going to need many of them to win on Saturday. I saw a stat the other day about how Klein hasn't turned the ball over in Big 12 play which is completely absurd. But since I don't believe he can keep that up all year, I have to believe he's due for a pick or two. Plus, a normally turnover-focused defense in OSU has forced nine total this year, good for 106th in the nation. As recently as three weeks ago we were on an even more historically bad pace. So I have to think we're due for some positive regression to the mean.
TB: Let's have a prediction. Will the Cowboys pull the upset and ruin K-State's dreams of a Big 12 title and possible national championship game berth?
KP: According to the paragraphs above I'm basically putting my hopes for this game on the hypothetical statistical regression I just invented and only halfway believe, so I guess that means I have to pick Kansas State. It's the smart pick and their season feels very OSU 2011-ish. I do think we could be in for a repeat of Stillwater last year and the defending champs definitely aren't going to roll over but I'll go 'Cats 42-37. Aand I definitely hope you guys win out after beating us.