|Oklahoma State heavy favorite in Big 12 opener|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 03 October 2008 12:35|
M (2-2) will face a confident Oklahoma State team on Saturday sporting a No. 21 ranking - its first poll appearance since November 2004 - and one of the nation's top offenses.
M lost at home to Arkansas State and struggled to beat Army. The Aggies are last in the Big 12 in scoring, rushing, passing and total offense, and in both scoring defense and rushing defense.
M as of Thursday night. Oklahoma State is seeking what would be the eighth 5-0 start in school history and the first since 2004.
``I feel like our team has more confidence,'' Cowboys offensive lineman Andrew Lewis said. ``Our offense and defense are playing higher than they were at this time last year.''
M, the Cowboys jumped to a 17-0 lead, but allowed the Aggies to rally in the second half and win 24-23.
``I remember it being loud, I remember us being up by 17, and I remember losing,'' Lewis said. ``It was a heartbreaking loss. ``
Oklahoma State's resurgence has been built on its offense, with coach Mike Gundy responsible for calling the plays. The Cowboys have scored more than 50 points in their last three games, only the second time in school history that's happened. (The first came during the first three games of Barry Sanders' Heisman Trophy season in 1988, with Gundy playing quarterback.)
Oklahoma State running backs Kendall Hunter and Keith Toston rank 1-2 in the Big 12 in rushing, with Hunter third in the nation at 154.5 yards per game. Oklahoma State is tops among major colleges in rushing yards and fourth in total offense at 562.5 yards per game.
The Cowboys also have a capable quarterback in Zac Robinson and two ace receivers in wideout Dez Bryant - who has caught three touchdown passes in a game twice this season - and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who could return to the lineup after missing last Saturday's win over Troy with a sprained ankle.
hrowing and running the ball, so you can't say that you'll shut them down and make them throw the ball, or make them run the ball,'' Sherman said of the Cowboys. ``You have to be able to defend everything with them. Also, their ability to score a lot of points may change how you play the game offensively.''
M certainly doesn't want the game to turn into a high-scoring affair. The Aggies are averaging 297.8 yards per game and have had to deal with a revolving door at quarterback because of injuries.
Senior Stephen McGee, who started 29 straight games, suffered a shoulder injury three weeks ago against New Mexico and missed the next game, against Miami, before returning against Army, only to reinjure the shoulder in the first half. Sophomore Jerrod Johnson has taken more snaps than McGee but also is dealing with a balky shoulder.
About the only consistent offensive player for the Aggies has been running back Mike Goodson, who is their leading rusher (220 yards) and receiver (140 yards).
M's coach. ``But this is our football team. I told them the other day that I wouldn't trade them for anybody. We're going out there to win football games with the guys we have. We are measured collectively as a team ... and we expect to win.''
M down, Gundy isn't taking anything for granted.
``I think our football team is better now than we have been in the last few years at this time,'' he said. ``From this point on, the teams get bigger, faster, stronger and have much more depth. It's important for us to prepare well and to stay focused.''