Big 12 Sports Articles

Big 12 Championship Aspirations on the Line in Ames on Saturday

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Iowa State

Great news, Cowboy fans! They rolled Gundy’s perpetual contract over, upped it back to five years and I assume gave him back the million dollar a year pay cut he took before last season (but we won’t know that last part until the school releases the details).

What? Some of you aren’t happy? Ok look, I’m not going to write another “you should appreciate him” piece as I’ve done plenty already over the years. I’m a Gundy fan more often than not and don’t think replacing him should even be considered until he misses a few bowl games. Especially not now, not while conference realignment is still lurking around. Gundy raises Oklahoma State’s profile both by winning consistently and by being part head coach, part sideshow. His consistency is a plus in the current state of college football so him being under contract until the dust settles on realignment, SEC expansion, and NIL deals is good news. I promise.

 

Of course any contract news makes the spotlight brighter. Somehow Gundy’s Guys are 6-0 and ranked in the top ten. Pretty amazing, right? What was a great story about a team that looked like it might not make it to six wins after squeaking by a weak non conference schedule that could have easily been three losses has shifted in one day to “Gundy better win in Ames!” The perception and expectations changed as soon as the contract news broke.

Iowa State won’t be an easy win but I think the internet chatter that the Cyclones will walk all over the Cowboys is wrong as well. Both teams boast stout defenses with ISU having an edge in the numbers. Swap Kansas for Texas on their schedule, or Texas for Kansas on OSU’s, and those numbers probably get a lot closer together.

Despite the defensive prowess we should see in this game Breece Hall for Iowa State will get his yards on the ground as will Jaylen Warren for Oklahoma State. In a nationally televised game Malcolm Rodriguez and Mike Rose will show some fans from the Big 10 and the SEC that there are great linebackers in the Big 12. In what might arguably be the game of the week the punters might need IVs at halftime. In the end it will be a familiar story: quarterback play will decide the winner.

 

Iowa State Offense vs. Oklahoma State Defense

Brock Purdy seems to be hitting his stride after starting the season out slow. He’s accurate and tough, can scramble and throw on the run. It’s also Brocktober, a nice mash up of Purdy’s first name and the month of October. It’s a catch phrase the Cyclone fans like to throw around because since Purdy became the starter they never lose games in the month of October!

Well, almost never.

Iowa State has only lost two games during Brocktober. Both those games were to this week’s opponent, Oklahoma State. Although he famously came off the bench to beat the Cowboys in Stillwater as a true freshmen (also in October) the now senior hasn’t been able to get it done the last two years. That first game was against then first year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles who quite honestly was in over his head most of that season. After that game Knowles has had Brock’s number. Something about his system seems to confuse the quarterback and cause more turnovers than usual from a pretty careful quarterback. The plan will be at least try to contain Hall enough to make Purdy win the game.

Oklahoma State Offense vs. Iowa State Defense

On the other side you have Spencer Sanders, a quarterback with all the tools that seems to only fire on all cylinders occasionally.  His arm strength is impressive until he sends a 30 yard pass on a frozen rope right into the chest of a safety. His speed is impressive until his 50 yard scramble ends with him fumbling. He has a tendency to throw the ball high which leads to tipped balls that get intercepted.  When Sanders is on he’s phenomenal but it seems to be a game by game thing.  Maybe the best news for OSU is that they haven’t seen the great Sanders in a few games so maybe he’s due.

Iowa State’s Jon Heacock will have a defensive plan much the same as OSU’s: limit the run game and make Sanders beat them. Heacock is a star in his profession to the level of Nick Saban sending people to talk to him about defense. He’ll have a plan to slow an already iffy Cowboy offense. He’s done a good job in those two Brocktober losses but just couldn’t slow down Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace. No one really could and they put on superhuman efforts, especially the last time in Ames, to knock off the cyclones. Jaylen Warren is a budding star and Tay Martin is a solid number one receiver but they aren’t Chuba and Wallace.

 

Close Game

This game will be about Knowles versus Purdy, Heacock versus Sanders.  Who can force the other teams signal caller into more mistakes?  I sense a close game coming.  Maybe a three point win with the scores being in the high 20s.  Whichever team wins has an inside track to the Big 12 Championship game. Whichever team loses will have a coach whose suddenly going to be catching flak from fans.  Campbell for having three loses in what was supposed to be THE season, or Gundy for not meeting the expectations a brand new contract has suddenly thrust upon him.

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