Thursday Night NCAA Preview: Colorado at No. 12 Oklahoma State
by Matt Severance - 11/18/2009
Some might say that Oklahoma State doesn't have a lot to play for with the Big 12 South title all but out of reach - Texas would need to collapse in the final two games - but the Cowboys would be a very attractive BCS bowl at-large team if they can win out and finish 10-2, beginning Thursday night against Colorado, which is an 18-point dog on Bookmaker (+650 on the money line).
If you look at the BCS standings, it would seem that OSU's main competition for that final BCS spot, assuming all favorites win out and that Boise State and TCU both get a bid, would come down to a second Big Ten team (Penn State or Iowa) getting the spot ahead of the Cowboys.
But first things first, and that's winning Thursday. The Buffs have been inconsistent all season and have lost three of their past four (1-3 ATS). At 3-7, their motivation might be lacking just a bit to close out the season. Colorado tends to shoot itself in the foot. CU ranks No. 119 in the nation in penalties, averaging 9.3 flags per game - only Texas Tech is worse. The Buffaloes also tend to turn the ball over, ranking No. 116 in the nation with 27 turnovers lost. And they allow sacks: 3.8 per game to rank No. 117 in I-A.
As for OSU's offense, the Cowboys expect starting QB Zac Robinson to play after he was knocked out of Saturday's win over Texas Tech with what originally was feared to be a concussion. It's Senior Night in Stillwater and, thus, Robinson's last home game, so you can be sure he will be out there if at all possible, and he has made 34 starts in a row. If Robinson is unable to go, junior Alex Cate - who has never started a college game - would replace him.
Robinson (or Cate) may not need to do too much as the Cowboys are leading the Big 12 in rushing after averaging 287 yards per game in victories over Iowa State and Texas Tech in their last two. Kendall Hunter, who led the Big 12 in rushing last season, is finally healthy but has lost the main role to Keith Toston, who needs 42 yards to become the 13th Cowboy player to record a 1,000-yard rushing season.
In last season's 30-17 win in Boulder, OSU had 443 yards of total offense, with Robinson throwing for 217 and a TD. The Cowboys haven't won two in a row over Colorado since the 1987 and 1988 seasons. This will be OSU's first Thursday home game since 1995.
The Buffs have won six of their past seven in Stillwater, but they have been lousy on the road since Dan Hawkins took over, going 2-19 outside the state of Colorado and having dropped 12 straight (2-3 ATS this season). The Buffs have just one offensive TD in each of their past three road games. Last week they reached Iowa State's 10-yard-line four times and came away with three points.
Long story short: The Cowboys still have plenty to play for and the Buffs are playing out the string, perhaps for a lame-duck coach. CU isn't going to be able to run against the No. 7 rush defense in the nation, and Buffs QB Tyler Hansen isn't a big threat to do much damage. This won't be close.
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