Three Keys to Oklahoma State Beating Central Michigan


So, here we are. The 2015 season begins tonight in Mount Pleasant against Central Michigan, and most of us agree that it should be a rather easy victory against a team that also finished 7-6 last season.

The Cowboys enter tonight with cautious optimism in a season that they hope will serve as more than just a bounce-back from a disappointing 2014 campaign. The matchup against the Chippewas should provide plenty of insight into just how far this team has come since last year, and what might still need a little work before conference play begins. This will be the team’s stiffest test before Texas on Sep. 26, after all.

More from Football

So how do the Cowboys win in Michigan? Obviously, when you really get down to it, the best way for Oklahoma State to beat the Chippewas is to, you know, score more points than them.

But allow me to dig a little deeper.

1. Contain Cooper Rush

CMU quarterback Cooper Rush, who is coming off of a Bahamas Bowl performance where he set an FBS bowl record with seven touchdown passes, is easily the Chippewas’ best player. Mike Gundy has stated leading up to the game that any team with a good quarterback is dangerous, and he’s definitely right. Rush has extensive experience as CMU’s playcaller, and even though the team will be running a new offense under first year coach John Bonamego, it’s actually a little better suited for him than the previous one, which he was already flourishing under.

As with most quarterbacks, Rush isn’t as accurate under pressure. And even though the new system is better for his skill set, it’s still new. There will be plenty of kinks to work out as the Chippewas get acclimated to their new offense, which means there is little room for mistakes. Rush is coming into 2015 without his top two receivers and running back from last season, so it’s all resting on him.

Oct 11, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks quarterback Michael Cummings (14) is chased by Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (38) in the second half at Memorial Stadium. Oklahoma State won the game 27-20. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

If Emmanuel Ogbah can get loose and put pressure on Rush, expect the seasoned quarterback to get flustered and make some bad decisions, which could easily snowball as the game drags on. This Cowboy defense is fast, and pouncing on a team breaking in a new offense could serve as the perfect way to get off on the right foot for 2015.

2. Establish the Run Early

As we all know, the Cowboys were pretty mediocre on offense last season. The run game struggled throughout the year, partly due to Desmond Roland not being on the level of previous OSU tailbacks, but mainly because of the lackluster and patchworked offensive line. The Chippewas are well-aware of of Mason Rudolph and the 8,000 receivers Oklahoma State has this season, and you’d better believe they are going to sell out early to try to limit the passing game. If Chris Carson and company can get is going early, it should blow the game wide open, forcing CMU to play honest, which shouldn’t bode well for them.

3. Limit Mistakes

This is obviously a crucial and cliche thing to say, but seriously. The Chippewas faithful are fired up — A big name opponent is coming to town on the first night of Division I college football, their team has a new coach, who happens to be an alum, AND is also battling cancer for goodness’ sake. Bottom line, CMU and their crowd will be ready. If the Cowboys come out and show that they are mortal by muffing a punt return or throwing an early interception within their own 40-yard line, they could suddenly find themselves backed into a corner against a team with an untimely burst of confidence, backed by a raucous crowd. Conservative, low-risk play calling and decisions should give the Cowboys a good chance to build a solid lead.

More from Pokes Post