Is Oklahoma State the new Texas Tech?
JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK
OKLAHOMA STATE RUNNING VARIATION OF OLD TECH OFFENSE, WITH SUCCESS!
A lot has been made this year of how Oklahoma State has incorporated variations of the Texas Tech offense (with tweaks) that had so much success in the Mike Leach era into their attack this season. America will get its first TV look at the Cowboys tonight when they face Texas A&M in a national broadcast on ESPN.
You can't argue with the results so far. Oklahoma State has scored 64, 41, and 65 points this season while storming to a 3-0 record. It's one of the most impressive starts to the 2010 season we've seen in the colleges. And, the fruits of their labor has launched Oklahoma State all the way up to...up to...up to NOWHERE in the AP rankings!
This is odd. Texas Tech used to beat teams only Kansas State would play in September by scores of 60-something to whatever and fly up the national rankings. Obviously, a team scoring THIS MANY POINTS has to be great? Right?
It turned out Texas Tech wasn't as great as everyone thought once they ran into tougher opposition. That was particularly true on the road...where it's tough to make gimmick offenses work...and you don't have a rabid home crowd intimidating the opposition.
The media, the pollsters, and even the oddsmakers got wise to the illusions Texas Tech was creating with this offense. But...have they outsmarted themselves? Sure, Texas Tech was never really a top 10 type team once you analyzed all facets of football. Weren't they top 25 though? Weren't they capable of playing with anybody in most locales, and showing up in bowl games with some decent efforts?
Is Oklahoma State being penalized for what people remember about the WORST of Texas Tech, without getting any credit for what they're actually accomplishing?
Let's take a closer look.
WEEK ONE: Oklahoma State 65, Washington State 17
Okay, it was Washington State...and the Cougars are horrible. If you have a tendency to run up the score, you're going to post a huge result against Washington State even if you're not very good. That being said, USC has a tendency to run up the score, and they Washington State 50-16. Southern Cal is currently 18th in the nation.
WEEK THREE: Oklahoma State 65, Tulsa 28
Hey, Tulsa was a preseason pick to win Conference USA, and is certainly far from being a doormat. It was expected to be a shootout (though Vegas inexplicably undershot the total by a few touchdowns). It didn't end 52-40 though, or 58-38. Oklahoma State won by 37 points...more than five touchdowns! This counts for nothing?
Now, we obviously skipped Week Two. And, apparently what happened in Week Two has disqualified Oklahoma State from AP poll consideration until they win some conference games.
WEEK TWO: Oklahoma State 41, Troy 38
Not a blowout. Not a whitewash. Though Troy is an annual threat to win the Sun Belt conference, Oklahoma State is supposed to beat them by more than this. Let's crunch the numbers to see why the Cowboys were suddenly mortal vs. Troy while playing great in their other two games...
OKLAHOMA STATE 41, TROY 38
Total Yardage: Troy 371, Oklahoma State 522
Rushing Yardage: Troy 101, Oklahoma State 174
Passing Stats: Troy 29-40-0-270, Oklahoma State 29-39-2-348
Turnovers: Troy 4, Oklahoma State 5
Penalties: Troy 9 for 67 yards, Oklahoma State 12 for 139 yards
Comments: Well, it's not hard to see why this game was close. Oklahoma State had a TERRIBLE night in the basics of execution. They lost the ball five times (two interceptions and three fumbles). They handed away 139 yards in penalties with 12 called infractions. They must have looked like the Keystone Cops.
This is why the AP hasn't ranked Oklahoma State, and the coach's poll only has them at 24th. It was an ugly win...and you'd better be Florida, Texas, or Oklahoma if you want to get respect in the rankings with ugly wins over no-name teams.
The questions for analysts as we see them are:
- Was that just a bad night from a team still learning the nuances of a new offense? Or, will that volume of screw-ups be expected on a regular basis?
- Can Oklahoma State be expected to iron out those issues in home games, but probably not in road games they'll be playing later in the season?
- Is a high risk-high reward approach just so darned risky that it's never really going to work consistently in the college game. It will work often in the college game, particularly vs. weaklings. It's not going to get you to the Promised Land any time soon. If you want to sell tickets, this is the way to go. If you want to sell extra concessions, this is the way to go because all the games are going to last four hours. If you want to win the Big 12 South? Well, Texas Tech has already shown that you can't do that with this offense.
- Should you just play Overs every week with the Cowboys until Vegas starts posting numbers in the 90's? Games have landed on 82, 79, and 93 so far, which is an average of 84.7 and a median of 82. Tonight's game with A&M is at 66.5 as we go to press.
- What's going to happen to the Oklahoma State defense once it's been challenged? Texas A&M is a few cuts above the likes of Washington State, Troy, and Tulsa. Remember what the Aggies did to last year's strong Texas defense on Thankgiving Night?
Whatever happens tonight, the game should be a lot of fun to watch. It will be a wide-open up-and-down affair. Even if both coaches get a little conservative in their conference openers...conservative for these guys is still wild and crazy for most everyone else. It should be more fun to watch than Miami-Pittsburgh or Cincinnati-NC State. Heck, it will be more fun to watch than Texas-Oklahoma the way those guys have started the season!
You know you're going to watch. WATCH AND WIN WITH JIM HURLEY!
Our selection will be available a few hours before kickoff here at the website. You can also start out a BLUE RIBBON or CLOSED CIRCUIT seasonal package with tonight's TV play. Make a few clicks here at the website and have your credit card handy.
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Games of interest for us the next few days...
BYU at Utah State on ESPN
Florida at Alabama
Stanford at Oregon
Oklahoma vs Texas (in Dallas)
Penn State at Iowa
Miami of Florida at Clemson
Arizona State at Oregon State
Notre Dame at Boston College
Tennessee at LSU
HOT GRUDGE SUNDAY
Washington at Philadelphia
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Indianapolis at Jacksonville
Chicago at NY Giants
New England at Miami
What a weekend!
Note that we'll be previewing Texas-Oklahoma tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK ...Florida/Alabama Saturday...Bears/Giants in the NBC prime time game Sunday...and, of course, Patriots/Dolphins Monday.
Tonight's Texas A&M/Oklahoma State thriller could be one of the most entertaining games of the whole season. By the time Monday rolls around, the thrills and profits will have multiplied exponentially thanks to one of the best schedules of the whole season.
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