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Oklahoma State (1-1) at Troy (0-2)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium (30,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: OSU 1-0, Troy 0-0. Away Record: OSU 0-1, Troy 0-2. Neutral Record: OSU 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: OSU 0-0, Troy 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: With their Big 12 Conference opener just around the corner next week versus Texas Tech, the Oklahoma State Cowboys try to fine tune their machine as they challenge the Troy Trojans in Alabama this Friday night in front of a nationally-televised audience. The Cowboys, who still have Sam Houston State left on their non-conference slate at the end of the month, crushed Florida Atlantic without much effort this past weekend at home in Boone Pickens Stadium by a score of 42-6. However, the lopsided victory did little to erase the feeling of a 35-14 setback in the season opener versus nationally-ranked Georgia in Athens. As for the Trojans, a team that will also play the Bulldogs in early November, they faced top-25 teams in their first two outings this year and didn't fare so well. A 46-26 setback to Arkansas in Fayetteville in the opener was followed by a 59-31 loss at defending national champion Florida on Saturday evening. The schedule will get considerably easier for Troy with dates against Louisiana Lafayette and Louisiana Monroe and the rest of the Sun Belt Conference, but for now the team has to contend with much bigger fish. This game represents the first-ever meeting between the two schools on the gridiron.
The Cowboys picked up their 12th straight home-opening win, a school record, by feasting on tiny Florida Atlantic over the weekend. Quarterback Zac Robinson took advantage of his good fortune by throwing for 250 yards and three touchdowns, both career highs for the sophomore, while Kendall Hunter recorded a pair of touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving for the group. Receiver Adarius Bowman posted team highs with six catches for 135 yards and a pair of scores as well for an offense that generated 488 yards even though they controlled the ball for barely 27 minutes and converted just 4-of-12 on third down. In 2006 the Cowboys saw their rushing offense ranked first in the league and seventh in the nation with 208 ypg, but after two outings this season the squad is way off the pace with only 151.5 ypg rushing, fifth in the Big 12 and 59th in the country. The same goes for the scoring offense with is at 28 ppg after two contests in 2007 (49th nationally), after putting up 35.2 ppg a year ago to place seventh in the country.
Aside from permitting FAU to get into position to kick a pair of successful field goals in the first half, the Oklahoma State defense did nearly everything right in keeping the Owls off their game. The visitors managed a woeful 28 net rushing yards on 34 attempts and gained just 203 yards of total offense while running 66 plays, two fewer than the Cowboys. FAU maintained possession of the ball for the majority of the game, but just 3-of-16 success on third down spelled the squad's doom nonetheless. Patrick Lavine led the way for the OSU defense with 10 tackles, twice as many as his closest teammate, Jeremy Nethon. While Lavine leads the team in stops after two games with 14, one of the more dominant hitters for the squad has been Jeray Chatham who has made more than half of his six stops already behind the line of scrimmage. After two games OSU is fifth in the Big 12 in TFLs with seven per game, after placing first in the conference and eighth in the nation in 2006 with 7.7 TFLs per outing.
The offense for the Trojans showed some signs of life in the second half versus Florida on Saturday, but in the end the defending national champions were simply too much for the tiny visitors to Gainesville. Troy had considerable trouble moving the ball on the ground, gaining just 53 yards on 26 attempts, but managed to put up 283 through the air thanks to Omar Haugabook who completed 29-of-52 for two touchdowns and an interception. Austin Silvoy reeled in both of those scoring throws, totaling five grabs for 72 yards in the losing effort. Haugabook showed some poise in the pocket versus Florida, at least as much as one could expect against such a dominant foe, and yet he has led the Trojans to a pass efficiency rating of only 92.68 after two outings, 107th in the country. As for the rushing attack, one that is averaging 107.5 ypg, were it not for the 72 yards gained by freshman Jamie Hampton in the first game of the season on just three carries, the unit would be far below the 3.8 yards per attempt it is facing at the moment.
Trying to slow down the Gators was like trying to halt an oncoming train this past weekend. Florida took it to the Trojans every which way, passing for 236 yards and three touchdowns and scoring another five TDs on 264 yards rushing. The Trojans did recover a pair of fumbles by the home team, but by allowing 500 yards of total offense it made little difference. It also didn't help that Florida scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions of the contest and was then allowed to hold the ball for almost 11 minutes in the final frame. Boris Lee led the group with nine tackles, while Marcus Richardson had eight stops, two TFLs, one sack and a forced fumble in the effort. Although it has only been two games, the run defense is already showing several cracks, giving up a whopping 307 ypg on the ground to rank 115th in the nation, a year after placing third in the Sun Belt and 53rd nationally with 129.5 ypg permitted. The scoring defense is also taking a severe beating as a result, allowing 52.5 ppg to rank second-to-last in the country this week behind only North Texas which has permitted an incredible 124 points in two games.
OSU is far from one of the better teams in the Big 12 again this season, but there's no question the Cowboys have what it takes to slip by a Troy program that has shown signs of improvement in the early going but needs to string together many more positive plays to break through.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma State 31, Troy 21
Re: Friday Football
Oklahoma St. at Troy
When ESPN made its debut at Troy for a Thursday night game in 2004, the Trojans didn’t disappoint. In fact, they beat a Top-20 team by double digits, thumping No. 19 Missouri by a 24-14 count as 11 ½-point underdogs.
Larry Blakeney’s team won’t get a shot at a ranked team Friday, but it will nonetheless revel in an opportunity to play at home against a BCS school on national television. Most sports books are listing Oklahoma State (1-1 straight up, 1-1 against the spread) as a 10-point favorite with a total of 65.
Gamblers can back Troy (0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS) on the money line for an ultra-generous plus 350 (risk $100 to win $350) return.
For bettors that are completely unfamiliar with Troy from out of the Sun Belt Conference, then allow me to fill you in. The Trojans lost their first two games, but they haven’t exactly been playing the Sisters of the Poor.
Troy opened at Arkansas and dropped a 46-26 decision. However, the Trojans took the cash as 22-point underdogs. They were at The Swamp last week, nearly posting a backdoor cover in a 59-31 loss to Florida as 25 ½-point underdogs.
Omar Haugabook is the straw that stirs the drink for Blakeney’s bunch. He was named the Sun Belt’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2006 thanks to 21 touchdown passes and five rushing TDs.
Haugabook has great size and can make plays with his arm and his scrambling ability. He has passed for 487 yards and three TDs through two games, not to mention a pair of rushing scores.
His favorite target is Gary Banks, a first-team All Sun Belt selection last season when he had 68 receptions and eight TD grabs. Banks has eight catches for 96 yards this year.
Troy is no stranger to the role of a double-digit underdog. In fact, the Trojans went 2-1 ATS in a trio of road games last year – at Nebraska, at Florida State and at Georgia Tech. They held a 17-10 lead at Doak Campbell Stadium midway through the fourth quarter, only to eventually lose to the Seminoles by a 24-17 count.
Oklahoma State started the season with a 35-14 loss at Georgia as a six-point underdog. Then in Week 2, the Cowboys bounced back for a 42-6 win over Florida Atlantic as 24 ½-point favorites.
Backup QB Zac Robinson threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns against the Owls. Robinson replaced Bobby Reid, who left the game with a twisted ankle.
As of early Thursday, Reid was “questionable” and a starter had not been announced. Reid’s job wasn’t necessarily in jeopardy before the injury, and the coaches insist that he remains the starter when he’s healthy. Still, you get the sense that OSU’s coaching staff wouldn’t mind seeing Robinson get more playing time this week.
One player the coaches most assuredly want to see playing is RB Dantrell Savage, who ran for 820 yards and eight TDs, while averaging 6.5 yards per carry in 2006. Savage had 10 carries for 55 yards and one touchdown before leaving the Georgia game with an injury.
He missed the FAU game and is “questionable” for Friday’s road tilt.
Whether or not it’s Reid or Robinson under center, the OSU quarterback will be looking early and often for senior WR Adarius Bowman. The Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year in ’06 is off to another fast start, hauling in 10 receptions for 200 yards and three TDs.
Troy will be missing a pair of starters on the defensive side of the ball. Senior DE Kenny Mainor is “out” indefinitely after his arrest for possession of marijuana, and senior safety Sherrod Martin (hand) is out for 2-3 weeks after surgery.
The loss of Mainor is huge. He had a team-high 6 ½ sacks in 2006.
The Cowboys are 2-1 ATS as road favorites during Mike Gundy’s three-year tenure.
ESPN2 will provide television coverage at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.