Projecting Low-Scoring Thriller Between Oklahoma State and Iowa State

oklahoma state iowa satte

Rainman M.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 5:34 PM GMT

Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 5:34 PM GMT

No. 11 Oklahoma State (7-2) travels to No. 15 Iowa State (6-3) with dashed playoff dreams and frustration after losing to rival Oklahoma. The Pokes and Cyclones play Saturday at noon ET.

Free NCAAF Picks: Iowa State +7 And 'Under' 62Best Lines Offered: Bovada

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Oklahoma State Cowboys at Iowa State Cyclones

The main source of Oklahoma State's offensive production is its passing game. However, quarterback Mason Rudolph has been struggling: In the past three weeks, his Pokes scored a season-low 13 points against Texas, he threw a season-low 216 yards against an inexperienced West Virginia secondary, and completed barely half of his passes against the softest of Oklahoma secondaries.

The key for opposing defenses has been to drop more defenders into coverage in order to challenge Rudolph's accuracy. His issues with accuracy had been masked by the talent of his wide receivers. But Iowa State can continue to cause him trouble with its transition to a 3-3-5 or 3-2-6 defense. Lockdown cornerback Brian Peavy leads the Cyclones' secondary with 6 passes defensed.

Coverage schemes that feature a lot of defensive backs are often vulnerable to the deep pass. Rudolph's weakness is his accuracy with deep passes. Iowa State won't put Rudolph under much pressure, which Rudolph responds well to, but it will make Rudolph struggle to establish the short and intermediate passing game. Oklahoma State's increased reliance on its rushing game has made it less of a big-play team. In their past 3 games, they average 5.7 yards per play despite their shootout with the soft Sooners, which would place them outside the top 40.

The Cowboys' defense looks horrible if you only look at the scoreboard and if you account for their struggles last week against perhaps the most prolific offense in the country. But before last week, they held West Virginia to two offensive touchdowns, one coming in garbage time, held Texas to 10 points and Texas Tech to 3 offensive touchdowns. As a rush defense, their problems have come against the speedy backs who are able to find isolation in open space and use their athleticism to break away from the defense. But they have contained the more physical runners. Iowa State's David Montgomery falls into the latter category.

Iowa State's offense has become much more conservative under quarterback Kyle Kempt. In the past three games, the Cyclones average 9.2 yards per pass, which would rank them dead last. This conservatism plays into the hands of an Oklahoma State defense that has proven most vulnerable against a big-play aerial attack that is supported by a balanced offense, such as that of Oklahoma. The Cyclones' conservative offense will allow Oklahoma State's defense to keep the game in front of them, where they can utilize their physicality to contain a Cyclones team that has hit 4 straight 'unders.' 

 

The Verdict

Oklahoma State's offense has struggled to retain character against a defensive scheme that is laden with defensive backs and plays tighter coverage. The Pokes' defense is underrated and matches up optimally against a more conservative and physical Iowa State offense. The Cyclones' defense will lead a low-scoring upset bid against a Cowboys squad that is likely demoralized after an emotional rivalry loss that dashed its playoff hopes. This game presents a nice opportunity for a correlated 'under' and underdog parlay on our college football picks.

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