November 10, 2007

Not in Kansas anymore

STILLWATER - After missing a chance to reach bowl eligibility last weekend, Oklahoma State has another shot to reach win No. 6 tonight against a Top 10 opponent.

The Cowboys (5-4 overall, 3-2 Big 12) play host to BCS No. 4 Kansas (9-0, 5-0) tonight inside Boone Pickens Stadium at 7 p.m. The game is drawing national attention thanks to the Jayhawks' rise to the near-top of the rankings. The game will be televised on ABC and viewed in the majority of the country.

While the main focus will be on KU and what they have riding on this game, the Cowboys have their own storylines. Aside from reaching bowl eligibility, OSU still has an outside shot at the Big 12 South title. But after last week's tough loss to Texas, they don't control their own destiny.

"The one thing that will work to our advantage this week is that it's not everyday that you get to play a team ranked (so high) in the BCS," head coach Mike Gundy said. "I would think our team would be excited about playing a team as highly regarded as they are and more importantly than that is we play for a reason, competition and the game. No matter what your situation is, we all have a responsibility to go out and play hard and have fun and give it our all."

The Pokes will need all they've got, plus maybe a little more, to bring down a KU squad which hasn't seen defeat since last year. Jayhawk coach Mark Mangino realizes that the zero in their record doubles as a target for their opponents to aim at. Last year, OSU was able to slice up KU, winning 42-32. The Cowboys scored all their points in the second half and put up 603 yards of offense on the way.

Does that mean OSU is dangerous for the Hawks again tonight?

"Everybody is dangerous that we're going to play because at this point in time we are going to get everyone's best shot," Mangino said. "So, we have great respect for them, we think they are a very, very good football team. They lost some games that they could have easily won that could have changed the complexion of things for them, but it is still a very talented and a very good football team."

Last year, former starting quarterback Bobby Reid shredded KU by passing for 411 yards and five touchdown. This time around, it will be up to Zac Robinson to roll up any big numbers the Cowboys might post. That's what he was able to do last week against the Longhorns, passing for 430 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 56 yards and a score on the ground.

Even with his yardage total from last weekend, Robinson's greatest threat is his running ability. It's such a threat that it hampers his passing ability, Gundy said.

"His arm gets fatigued more than a quarterback who doesn't run as much as he does," Gundy said. "So because of that he's not been as accurate as he wanted to in the throwing game, but he's still playing pretty well. Zac has a long way to go. He's been good for our team because he's played hard and he's made some plays, but he still has a ways to go to develop to be what I'd call a really good quarterback at this level."

A QB who has come on quickly at the major college level is Todd Reesing. The Austin, Texas, product has had a big year, throwing for 2,339 yards, 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Considering he wasn't the starter last year, is Mangino and the coaching staff surprised with his output this year?

"Well we thought he was going to be really good and with a sophomore that's putting up the kind of numbers that he is, you almost have to say, yes," Mangino said. "But I'm not surprised. I'm not caught off guard by it, but I'm pretty pleased about what he's done to this point."

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