December 23, 2012

Key matchups for OSU's game against Purdue

Anyone will tell you that football is a game of inches.

While that usually always holds true, the pregame is a different story. It's a game of matchups. Building up to each and every match, coaches, players, media, and fans break down every aspect of the game to try and figure out where they could gain an advantage over the opponent.

It's no different for Oklahoma State in their bowl game, even though it may seem 6-6 Purdue is an opponent that they should walk all over.

That's why you play the game, and that's why you dissect every matchup possible.
There are three of them that the Cowboys should be focusing on as they inch closer to their New Years Day date with the Boilermakers.

Matchup One: Joseph Randle vs. Purdue Defense

This is probably the biggest matchup of the year for any game. The biggest example was against the Kansas Jayhawks. Randle struggled, so the Cowboys struggled.
In this game, the junior goes up against the 79th-ranked rush defense in the nation. The Purdue unit has given up 2,157 yards and 23 scores on the ground, which averages out to 179.8 yards per game.

If Randle can get going, and get going early, the Cowboy offense should thrive. Quarterback Clint Chelf isn't a game-changer, but he's a great game-manager. When he has a rushing attack to lean on, he's better. If Randle and backup Jeremy Smith can do that, it should be an easy day at the office for the Cowboy offense.

Matchup Two: Robert Marve vs. Oklahoma State defense

Marve eventually took over the starting spot, and has performed decently well. In his last game against Indiana, he threw for 348 yards and 4 TD's on 20/29 passing, and that's been his best game to-date this season so far.

Oklahoma State's defense, especially through the air, has been porous. They got gashed by the Oklahoma Sooners and the Baylor Bears to end the season, and their luck that they thrived off of last year seems to have run out.

If they can get it straightened out, they obviously have the talent to completely shut down the Boilermakers, just like they shut down Texas Tech and West Virginia. But if they come in with whatever they did against OU? Marve may just make a day out of it.

Matchup Three: Mike Gundy vs. Interim Patrick Higgins

Purdue's in the middle of a coaching change after Danny Hope decided it was time. They hired former Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell earlier this month, but their wide receiver coach (Higgins) will handle the duties for the bowl game.

On the other side, Gundy comes in with a fan base that may be a bit annoyed with him at the moment after not really squashing coaching rumors this offseason.

The matchup may be more intricate than first meets the eye. Gundy's one of the best coaches in the nation, and is going up against a guy that no one outside of Purdue fans has probably ever heard of. At first glance, you may think it's a no-contest, but these things have a funny way of panning out on the field. Can Higgins inspire the Boilermakers enough to somehow pull the upset, or will Gundy and his Pokes roll?

Oklahoma State and Purdue play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on January 1st at 11 a.m.

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