Stillwater, OK (Sports Network) - Two teams that always provide for thrilling action get together at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon, as the Oklahoma State Cowboys try to lasso the 23rd-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders in Big 12 Conference play.
The Red Raiders opened the 2012 campaign with four straight wins over lackluster competition, and then found the conference slate to be much more challenging. The team had played nationally-ranked opponents over the course of five straight games before catching up with Kansas last weekend. After bowing to Kansas State and Texas in back-to-back outings, the Jayhawks were certainly a welcomed change for Texas Tech, but the squad had to go to double- overtime in order to grab the 41-34 victory nonetheless.
As for the Cowboys, they've had their share of tough outings this year, of course that doesn't cover the awkward 84-0 win over Savannah State in the opener though. Last week, OSU matched up against one of the two newest additions to the Big 12 Conference in West Virginia, and former Cowboys offensive coordinator and current Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen, and even though the Pokes were down to their third quarterback they still came out with the 55-34 victory for their sixth win of the season.
In terms of the all-time series between these two programs, it dates back to 1935 and currently favors the Red Raiders by a count of 21-15-3. However, OSU has won three straight encounters, including a massive 66-6 blowout on the road a season ago.
It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but the Red Raiders needed a win desperately against Kansas at home and were able to realize it when Eric Stephens took a direct snap, rolled to his right and threw a three-yard jump pass to Darrin Moore for a touchdown in the second overtime.
"It's been hit and miss in practice but I just had a really good feeling about it," quarterback Seth Doege said of the game-winning play. "I think Eric's one of those guys when you call on his number, he's going to get the job done regardless. So I was putting the ball in his hands."
Doege finished the outing 45-of-59 for 476 yards and three touchdowns, was sacked once and had a pass picked off. Ward reeled in 12 passes for 180 yards and Moore turned his nine receptions into 74 yards and a couple of scores.
However, even though the offense put up some gaudy numbers yet again, the Texas Tech defense was taken to task by the Kansas rushing attack which produced 390 yards and two TDs on 57 attempts. The action on the ground was much more than the Red Raiders are accustomed to because after 10 games they are still giving up 152.3 ypg.
The defense has been quite solid for Tech as well overall, permitting 172.3 ypg which is second in the conference and 11th in the nation entering this week. But even though Tech isn't giving up massive yardage totals, the team has surrendered 27.1 ppg nonetheless.
With 70.2 percent completions, 334.5 ypg and a total of 34 touchdowns, Doege has done more than his share to keep the Tech offense humming along and that goes for Ward and Moore as well as they both have 10 receiving TDs in their nine appearances.
With J.W. Walsh out of action with a knee injury and Wes Lunt taking a seat after suffering an apparent concussion in the loss to Kansas State, the Cowboys turned to fourth-year junior Clint Chelf to command the offense against West Virginia. In his first career start, Chelf converted 22-of-31 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns, brushing off a pair of sacks and an interception.
Josh Stewart helped to support the third different starter at quarterback this year for OSU as he caught 13 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for a 46-yard TD as well.
"We're moving him around," OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said of Stewart. "We're trying very hard to get him the ball. That's pretty obvious. What we're paid to do is get the ball in the hands of the guy that can make plays for you."
With respect to the quarterback position in Stillwater, head coach Mike Gundy wasn't making any final decisions as of Tuesday and was hoping the situation would work itself out.
"We hope that we have three healthy players on Saturday. There's a chance that could happen, but we won't know for sure until late in the week. There are still discussions taking place. The only answer I have is that we're going to play the guy who we feel like gives us the best chance to win Saturday and have success."
It almost seems as if the offensive scheme for the Cowboys is what has been carrying the team to this point, particularly since the squad is fourth in the nation in both passing (348.8 ypg) and total offense (561.1 ypg), en route to a massive 43.9 ppg which is third-best in the country right now. Obviously not all three quarterbacks that the Cowboys have used are of equal talent, but at least the players around them are able to make them look good week in and week out.
With just 0.67 sacks per game allowed (fourth-best in the nation), the offensive line should be getting much of the credit for the success of the passing attack, but then what do you say about the group when you're also down to your third-string QB?