2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Louisiana at Oklahoma St
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Sept. 3 at Oklahoma State 61 … Louisiana-Lafayette 34
CFN Analysis: The offense looked like it's business as usual yardage-wise, but there were way, way too many mistakes. Brandon Weeden completed 24-of-39 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns, but he threw three picks. Justin Blackmon was Justin Blackmon, catching eight passes for 144 yards, but he didn't score, while Joseph Randle ripped off 129 rushing yards and two scores on 22 carries. The pass rush dialed it up a few notches with five sacks, and Markelle Martin showed why he might be the Big 12's best defensive back with nine tackles, a tackle for loss, and three broken up passes. With 666 yards of offense and 61 points, the Cowboys appear to be more than ready for Arizona.
The Ragin' Cajuns ran into a buzzsaw, and the offense couldn't keep up the pace. Few defenses in the country are going to be able to slow down the Oklahoma State attack, so there's no reason to get into a twist about getting bombed on, but going forward, the offense has to decide on who the best quarterback might be after Chris Masson couldn't get the attack moving and Blaine Gautier struggled with his accuracy. Pass protection was a huge problem, and it's not going to get any better with a trip to Kent State coming up next; the offensive line will be under the microscope.
(AP) STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State has a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken, but little seemed to have changed Saturday night for the Cowboys -- they still rolled up huge numbers.
Joseph Randle rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns, Justin Blackmon had 144 yards receiving and No. 9 Oklahoma State beat Louisiana-Lafayette 61-34.
Brandon Weeden completed 24 of 39 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns for Oklahoma State (1-0) in the debut for Monken, who replaced Dana Holgorsen, now the head coach at West Virginia.
The Cowboys became known for wide-open offense under Holgorsen, averaging 520.2 yards per game last season en route to an 11-2 finish. Monken, true to his word, didn't change things much as Oklahoma State rolled up 666 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette (0-1), the ninth-best total in school history.
"There were a number of things that the players have confidence in," Monken said. "We're going to continue to do what we feel like gives us the best chance to move the ball. ... There's a number of things that they did in the past that I think, as I've said many times, we'd be silly to change."
New Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth didn't fare as well in his first game. He's the third coach of the Ragin' Cajuns to make his debut against Oklahoma State, and he fared like the other two, Nelson Stokley and Jerry Baldwin. Hudspeth's team scored two defensive touchdowns but did little offensively until the game had been decided.
"We've got to do a better job of putting together some drives," Hudspeth said. "Our defense was on the field for, like, 56 plays in the first half alone."
Oklahoma State has won all eight meetings against Louisiana-Lafayette and is 6-1 in season openers under coach Mike Gundy. The Cowboys have won 16 straight home openers and are 26-2 all-time against Sun Belt Conference schools.
Offensively, "I thought we could have played better," Gundy said. "But I like it when we don't play as good and score 61."
Blackmon, last year's Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top receiver, had eight catches and posted his 13th straight game of at least 100 yards receiving, though he didn't score. He said he's not disappointed that he didn't extend his NCAA record for games with triple-digit receiving yards and at least one touchdown.
"It didn't bother me at all," Blackmon said. "I didn't even think I had 100 yards ... As long as we've got the winning streak going, that's all that matters to me."
Another receiver, Tracy Moore, had seven catches for 112 yards, career highs in both categories, while Randle carried 22 times and balanced out the offense with strong runs. About the only missteps were three interceptions thrown by Weeden -- two of which were returned for touchdowns -- although one of those bounced off a receiver before it was picked.
Weeden, playing in his 18th game with the Cowboys, moved into fourth place on the school's career passing yardage list with 4,921 yards.
Sporting new gray uniform tops with difficult-to-read orange numbers -- and their highest preseason ranking -- the Cowboys started slow but gathered steam as the game progressed, scoring three touchdowns in a five-minute span in the second quarter and leading 34-10 at halftime.
Randle scored Oklahoma State's first touchdown on a 4-yard run late in the first quarter and had another 4-yard scoring run in the second quarter. In between, Jeremy Smith scored on a 1-yard run and Weeden hit Josh Cooper on a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Quinn Sharp added field goals of 27 and 22 yards to bookend the touchdowns, the latter on the final play of the half, and made kicks from 46 and 23 yards in the second half.
The Rajin Cajuns' offense sputtered. Quarterback Blaine Gautier completed 13 of 26 passes for 106 yards and Louisiana-Lafayette finished with 320 yards -- 147 of those in the fourth quarter.
"When it's your first game with a new team, especially against a team ... with two Heisman Trophy candidates, to see your team come out and never give in, we've got a resilient group," Hudspeth said.
In the first half, the Ragin' Cajuns managed only 101 yards -- 43 of those on a trick play, on which Gautier lateraled to third-string quarterback Brad McGuire, who then passed to Javone Lawson. That led to a 23-yard field goal by Brett Baer, which briefly pulled Louisiana-Lafayette within a touchdown at 10-3.
The Cowboys limited Louisiana-Lafayette's star tight end, Ladarius Green, to one catch for minus-1 yard and the Ragin' Cajuns didn't score an offensive touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter.
Louisiana-Lafayette's first two touchdowns came on defense. In the second quarter, Dwight Bentley intercepted a pass that glanced off Cooper and returned it 38 yards. After Weeden hit Moore on a 19-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, he threw an ill-advised ball over the middle, which Jemarlous Moten intercepted and returned 50 yards for a touchdown for the Ragin' Cajuns.
"I thought Weeden pressed a couple of times," Gundy said. "I mentioned to him that he doesn't have to make every single play. The second interception he threw for a touchdown, he was just pressing and he doesn't have to do that. But he'll figure that out."
Louisiana-Lafayette (0-0) at Oklahoma State (0-0) Sept. 3, 7:00
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Here's The Deal … They tried this last year and it almost
turned out to be a shocker.
For a half, on the road, Oklahoma State got all it could handle as the Ragin' Cajuns went on a 21-point second quarter run for a 21-17 halftime lead to shock the heavily-favored visitors from the Big 12. And then reality set in and Justin Blackmon went bananas finishing with 13 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns, and Brandon Weeden threw for 351 yards and five scores in the 54-28 Cowboy win.
This season, the spotlight will be bright on the new coaches, with head coach Mark Hudspeth taking over at Louisiana after running the
Mississippi State offense last season. With a rough defense and inconsistent, but occasionally dangerous, offense, ULL isn't expected to do too much, picked to finish at or near the bottom of the Sun Belt. On the other side, Oklahoma State is expected to be a major contender for the Big 12 title.
Most of the offense stars are back, but new offensive coordinator Todd Monken has to prove he can step in for
new West Virginia head man Dana Holgorsen and keep the nation's No. 3 offense rolling as usual. With Arizona, at Tulsa, and at Texas A&M to follow, the attack needs to use this tune-up to be ready for the shootouts ahead, but the defense could be in for a firefight of its own.
Why Louisiana-Lafayette Might Win: Oklahoma State has the
talent, the athleticism, and the experience to come
up with a huge season, but the defense is still
going to be a sort spot for a little while. The defensive front should be fine with a little bit of time, but the back seven might be among the shakiest in the Big 12 after finishing 115th in the nation in passing. The Ragin' Cajuns don't have the defense to slow down OSU, but they should have a good attack that should be able to bomb away a bit. If the offensive line can give the quarterbacks time – and there's a big question mark about who that should be for the entire game – the passing game should be able to put up some yards. Chris Masson threw for 308 yards and two scores in last year's game, and he and possibly Blaine Gautier should be able to crank out the stats, even if it's in catch-up mode.
Why Oklahoma State Might Win: The Oklahoma State offense should be able to do whatever it wants. Hudspeth is a good offensive coach and he should get the Ragin' Cajuns rolling in Sun Belt play, but he has a ton of work to do with a defense that finished 82nd in the nation and 112th in scoring D. The defensive front doesn't have any semblance of a pass rusher to worry about, and if Weeden gets ten days to throw, he should pick apart a ULL secondary that should be among the best in the Sun Belt, but doesn't have the talent at corner to stay with the Cowboy targets. It shouldn't come down to special teams, but Ragin' Cajuns had among the worst in America last year and finished last in the nation in kickoff returns. OSU's special teams are going to be a major strength.
What To Watch Out For: So who's going to replace Kendall Hunter? Justin Blackmon and the passing game got all the national attention last year, and it was deserved, but Hunter and the Oklahoma State ground attack was more than terrific, too, averaging 174 yards per game with Hunter averaging 119 yards per game and finishing ninth in the nation. It'll take a few backs to pick up the slack, with Joseph Randle likely to be the best of the lot with tremendous speed and quickness. He'll work on the outside, while Jeremy Smith will be a smasher who mostly works up the middle. He's a workhorse type with the talent to set the tone for the offense, but Randle and freshman Herschel Sims will put up big numbers, too.
What Will Happen: Expect lots of points and lots of yards. The Ragin' Cajuns will have their moments and they'll come up with some nice stats, but Oklahoma State will take target practice. The Cowboys will get up early, the backups will take over in the third quarter, and the production will keep on going. Everything will be humming, and for a brief moment, no one will miss Holgorsen.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma State 52 ... Louisiana-Lafayette 20
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Oklahoma State -36.5 O/U: 62
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