college football picks Troy at Oklahoma State 9-11-10

September 10, 2010


DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 11th, 7:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Boone Pickens Stadium (60,218) — Stillwater, Oklahoma. Television: None. Home Record: Troy 1-0, Oklahoma State 1-0. Away Record: Troy 0-0, Oklahoma State 0-0. Neutral Record: Troy 0-0, Oklahoma State 0-0. Conference Record: Troy 0-0, Oklahoma State 0-0. Series Record: Series tied, 1-1.

GAME NOTES: After a tremendous home opening victory, the Oklahoma State Cowboys will remain at Boone Pickens Stadium this Saturday when the Troy Trojans come to Stillwater to take on coach Mike Gundy and the troops.

The Cowboys flexed their offensive muscle in their season-opener, as they pounded Washington State by a 48-point margin. Mike Gundy’s gang looked to be in mid-season form and are coming off back-to-back 9-4 campaigns. However, both those seasons ended with bowl losses and Gundy would like to reverse that trend this year.

Not to be overlooked are the Trojans, who opened the 2010 season with a thrilling, 30-27 victory over Bowling Green. Troy has won the last four Sun Belt Conference titles and in coach Larry Blakeney’s 19th season at Troy, the Trojans will look for more of the same.

This will be the third meeting between Troy and Oklahoma State on the football field. The Trojans won the first matchup, but the Cowboys evened the series with a 55-24 decision over Troy in 2008.

The Trojans were an offensive juggernaut in 2009 and it does not seem like they are going to take the foot off the pedal this year. Troy opened its new campaign with an impressive performance in the win over Bowling Green. Sure, the team needed a 34-yard field goal by Michael Taylor in the final seconds of regulation to pull out the win, but the Trojans were well balanced, running and passing at will.

Shawn Southward, who led the team last season with 602 rushing yards, rumbled for 70 yards and one score on 13 totes, while wideout Jerrel Jernigan added 58 yards and a touchdown on just five carries.

Questions surrounded the passing attack for Troy in the off-season after the departure of Levi Brown, and the hopes were that Corey Robinson would step in and give Troy similar success under center.

Well, Robinson passed his first test on the season, despite throwing two interceptions against Bowling Green. The quarterback finished with 252 yards and one score on 25-of-38 passes, and spread the ball around effectively, hitting 11 different receivers.

While the offense proved to be a dominating force, the defense for Troy resembled last season’s unit, which had plenty of issues. One of the touchdowns against Troy came on special teams, but the defense still managed to struggle against the run, allowing over 100 yards on 4.3 yards per carry.

On top of that, the Trojans had issues against the pass as well, allowing 221 yards through the air. There was some positives from the victory for this unit, as Troy forced three turnovers and finished with three sacks. Xavier Lamb led th team with 10 tackles, while Mario Addison tallied two sacks.

Last season the Cowboys were led by Keith Totson on the ground, while Kendall Hunter played sparingly due to injuries. However, Hunter was healthy for the opener, and wasted little time proving he is one of the top backs in the nation. Hunter scored less than a minute into the contest and did not stop there, as the senior finished with 257 yards and four touchdowns on an eye- popping 12.2 yards per attempt.

The success of the ground attack eased the transition for quarterback Brandon Weeden, who is taking over for Zac Robinson. Although the contest came against a weak Washington State squad, the new starter for Oklahoma State managed the game well, throwing for 218 yards and three scores on 22-of-30 passing.

Clearly the 26-year-old Weeden found a friend in Justin Blackmon, who coach Gundy is hoping will fill the void left by All-American Dez Bryant, who left for the NFL. Blackmon was on the receiving end of all three of Weeden’s touchdown passes and finished with 125 yards on eight receptions.

While the success of the offense is all the buzz around Stillwater, the play of the defense should not be overlooked. The Pokes did a solid job against Washington State, holding the Cougars to just 12 first downs and 324 total yards.

Against the run is where the Cowboys really enjoyed success, limiting Washington State to 112 yards on a mere 2.7 yards per carry. Coach Gundy’s defense also forced two turnovers, finished with three sacks and held the Cougars to a meager 5-of-18 on third down attempts. Justin Gent led the way with seven tackles in the opener, while Richetti Jones added five stops, to go along with two sacks.

The Cowboys proved they are a dangerous team despite the players lost from last and while Troy is the elite class of the Sun Belt, look for Gundy’s gang to open home schedule with a bang.

FREE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS : Oklahoma State 48, Troy 28

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