We nearly pulled off the unimaginable against Texas Tech last week, and while there seems to be a bit more hope in Jayhawk territory this week, we still have to contend with an undefeated team in the Oklahoma State Cowboys. To help us be better informed on just what the team is facing this week, I spoke with Gerald Tracy over at Cowboys Ride For Free, the SB Nation site covering OSU. He was kind enough to spend a few minutes answering some questions for us.
RCT: This team seems to be all about the close calls: a come-from-behind victory in the opener against Central Michigan, a punting mistake by Texas to set up the winning field goal, a desperation conversion on a 4th and 8 to beat a Kansas State team that was using a receiver at QB, and losing a lead to West Virginia, only to hold them off in overtime. Is it fair to say that this team is about as lucky as they can get? Do we really know how truly talented they are?
CRFF: I wouldn't say lucky because there is true talent on this team that has kept the Cowboys in each game. The defense is obviously the highlight, and the offense COULD be great. However, the lack of a running game (because the line can never get a solid push) has forced Rudolph to sort of carry the team on his shoulders. Here's a summary of those games. CMU wasn't really a come-from-behind as they led for a whole two minutes of the third quarter and never threatened again, UT was the lack of a run game and Rudolph having a pretty bad stinger in his arm, KSU was Rudolph having to literally do everything and WVU was for real the worst game we've seen from Rudolph but the defense held through, thankfully. Obviously luck does factor into some things, but I wouldn't say they're as lucky as they can get. The talent level, in my opinion is good for fourth, maybe third, in the Big 12 behind TCU, BU and OU.
RCT: I think OSU has one of the better defensive units in the conference, and I'm sure everyone has heard of Emmanuel Ogbah, the defensive end who terrorizes his opponents on a whim. What other names do we need to be on the lookout for this weekend?
CRFF: Oh man, where to begin. Jimmy Bean is the other end that everyone forgets about but he's third in the Big 12 with 5.5 sacks this year as well as second with 10.5 tackles for loss, so it's certainly a pick your poison type of defensive line. Kevin Peterson doesn't have the stats that other corners have but he's certainly better than most. After he was injured at WVU, the pass defense struggled. The other big name is Jordan Sterns. Sterns leads the Big 12 in tackles and has been a force on the defensive side in a secondary that ranked seventh last year and is second this year.
RCT: What can we expect to see offensively from the Cowboys? Which players are most likely to make a big impact against the Jayhawk defense?
CRFF: You're going to get a lot of "bang your head against the wall" running plays. Unless something changes, the Cowboys won't average more than three yards per carry. However, Rennie Childs could have a good game against KU as well. I'm also looking for Rudolph to bounce back from last game and throw for a couple touchdowns and limit his interceptions as he does at home fairly well. Watch for Jalen McCleskey, freshman receiver/punt returner, to make a play or two as I'm told the Cowboys may try to take advantage of his speed this week.
RCT: Let's imagine for a minute that somehow Kansas pulls off the upset. What is the most likely (but still completely shocking) scenario that sees the visitors earn their first win of the season?
CRFF: Jayhawks shut the run down and much like Morgantown, Rudolph makes mistakes while trying to force a play. It's an ugly game and OSU needs Ben Grogan to kick another game-winning kick. This time, Grogan reverts back to his old self and misses an easy kick, giving KU the unlikely win. The sad thing is, that wouldn't surprise many OSU fans if he did that.
RCT: What's your prediction for the game this weekend? I think we are all expecting a blowout, so which player provides the biggest highlight? Which scrub looks like a Heisman candidate for the day?
CRFF: I'm honestly not taking THAT BAD of a blowout as we aren't Baylor and won't cut your throat off at first chance. I'm taking OSU 42 KU 13. KU doesn't do much on offense until late in the game. Rudolph throws for more than 300 and scores a few touchdowns. Jalen McCleskey, though not much a scrub, hasn't done amazing this year and I expect him to bounce on the scene this week, so he'll be your Heisman candidate for the day.
RCT: BONUS - We get the feeling that Kansas Football fans are in for a rough season. To do our part to help, we are taking up collections. What alcoholic beverage would you contribute to the storehouse to help our fans drown their sorrows after a loss?
CRFF: I just got some of the Captain Morgan Cannon Blast about a week ago and it was fantastic. However, Captain doesn't do the job when your seasons this bad. How about we give you two things because it's homecoming and we're feeling happy. A keg of your choice and a liter of Crown.
You heard him, he's buying. So what's it going to be? Which keg will help you put another loss behind you on Saturday night?
A big thanks to Gerald for taking some time to chat with us. Don't forget to check out the questions that I answeredfor him as well.