The Big 12 opens its conference play with two 2-1 teams but with a different kind of momentum going into the game: The very confident Oklahoma State, ranked at number 24 in the nation after a very solid start, and Texas Tech, whose loss to an SEC team shook the confidence of those hoping for something of a breakout season.
The Cowboys shouldn’t be surprising anyone when they do well. They’ve won 59 games since the 2008 season, eighth most in the nation. This season they weren’t ranked to start the season because 17 starters left, but Mike Gundy has turned this program around to be consistently successful, even if sometimes they play second fiddle to their big sister from Norman. If a 10-3 season last year didn’t raise any eyebrows, they’ve managed to change the perception about who they are.
A close loss against Florida State followed by wins over Missouri State and UTSA has them going into the nine-game conference schedule on a high, playing two home games before a brutal finish that concludes with playing at Baylor and Oklahoma for the big finish. In order to have any shot at big bowl games, and Oklahoma State are planning on more than just the Cotton Bowl, they’re going to need an undefeated run going into those two brutal road games.
For Texas Tech, things aren’t looking that good at this point. They have won against Central Arkansas and UTEP, but a 49-28 loss to Arkansas was eye opening and led to the resignation of coordinator Matt Wallerstedt. They gave up 438 rushing yards in the loss to Arkansas and are giving up a Big-12 worst 432.7 yards per game. They’re also 112th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 36.7 points per game despite the weak rivals on their first two games.
Offensively there’s a bit more to feel confident about. Davis Webb has thrown 10 touchdown passes to four interceptions and is completing 64.8% of his throws so far. This is a throwing team, ranked 17th in the nation in passing yards, but they can get the job done on the ground which might call for some different play calling by Kingsbury. Justin Stockton is averaging nine yards per carry and DeAndre Washington has so far rushed for 214 yards and a touchdown this season.
Oklahoma State have won the last five games in this series, and their only home losses over the last two seasons have come against Oklahoma and Texas, once each season. While Texas Tech have the ability to put on some big numbers on offense if Webb avoids turnovers, their defense hasn’t shown they have the ability to keep with what Oklahoma State have going for them on offense.