October 5, 2007
Finishing the Two-Step
Two weeks ago, I wrote a column called Texas Two-Step.
In that column, I presented some near-past research I conducted and discovered that a key to more success for Oklahoma State in the future is to consistently beat Texas Tech and Texas A&M.
Two weeks later and it's one down, one to go for the Cowboys. Having already made it to the halfway point of this Texas Two-Step by defeating the Red Raiders 49-45 on Sept. 22, the Pokes are in a position to complete that counterclockwise dance move this weekend by beating the Aggies in College Station.
The wild thing is, more is on the line now than just getting above Tech and A&M in the Big 12 South. With Oklahoma and Texas both taking dives last weekend, the battle of the Mid-South little brothers is suddenly more than just jockeying for the third-place finish in the division. Considering that the winner of this matchup will have a TWO-GAME lead over either the Longhorns or Sooners by the end of the night, this game will be the start of a "control your own destiny" storyline for either the Pokes or the hullabaloo ki-neck ki-nicks.
Take in mind, this won't be easy for the Cowboys. After all, they've played horribly on the road in recent years and just waltzing out of Kyle Field with a win isn't easy. Well, it was in 2003. But this A&M squad is better than then, although not invincible. The Aggies have looked bad in games against Fresno State and Miami. They weren't too sharp in the first half against Baylor last week, either. Their running game is stout with Jorvorskie Lane and Stephen McGee, but they have a one-dimensional offense. That will help the Pokes, who are weaker in the backfield than up front (though to be fair, they haven't been tested much this season). And since the Aggies are merely average on defense, if the OSU offense can get going early and not shoot itself in the foot, the Pokes might just stand a chance on the road. Though, at this point, it's just plain hard to believe they can win on the road until they actually do. It seems like ancient history now, but remember Troy? Exactly.
Just like the Tech game, this weekend at College Station is a test for Mike Gundy and his young administration in Stillwater. While the Raiders proved to be a test of surviving in a shootout, A&M will be a test of endurance on the road. The Ags will want to grind the clock and keep Zac Robinson and friends at bay. Just like against Tech, the defense will need to make key stops - this time by containing the run, not the pass - to give the offense a shot at getting up on the scoreboard. Luckily, it won't take as many points for OSU to win if the defense can do that this time around. If the Cowboys make eight stops out of 10 against A&M in the second half on Saturday night, the Pokes could win by two touchdowns easily.
But using the words "Pokes," "win" and "easily" in the same sentence isn't smart until proven otherwise. Sometime soon, to get to where Gundy and Co. want to go, they'll have to start winning games on the road. Especially conference games. Even though I picked against OSU in my scouting report (just like I did in the Tech edition), I believe they are in good position to win this weekend. I said as much in the first Two-Step column in regards to Tech and they ended up doing just that. I get a similar feeling about this game. The Pokes shouldn't be expected to win because it's a tough road test, but they are in a position to do just that, as the Aggies are no prize and who knows how Dennis Franchione will coach after having to deal with e-mailgate for a full week. Find a way to win here, and Gundy's gang is suddenly 2-0 and both wins are over teams the Pokes traditionally are close to in the South race but typically struggle against. This is the ultimate Carpe Diem moment for the Cowboy footballers in 2007.
In a season which seemed to implode on the launching pad at the start of September, things are looking up this first week of October. If the Pokes complete this Two-Step and go to 2-0 in the Big 12 South, they'll be in position to start a magical run to San Antonio - and not for the Alamo Bowl.
What a dance that would be, eh?
Justin Wilmeth is the editor of OStateIllustrated.com. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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