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Three and out with Oklahoma State ...
• Kansas Jayhawks (1-4 overall, 0-2 Big 12) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-2 overall, 0-1 Big 12) •
— 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS —
Opening Las Vegas Line: OSU -20
Current Las Vegas Line: OSU -24
Three and out, with Oklahoma State...
While most of the rest of college football already has played five games (and had one off week), Oklahoma State enters this weekend’s contest with KU already having had both of its bye weeks. The second came last week, as the Cowboys were off while KU traveled to K-State.
Although their second off week came after a disappointing home loss to Texas, OSU coach Mike Gundy said his team did not let the bye weeks disrupt their flow.
“I think we've had good practices,” Gundy said. “We've been able to get out on the road and work hard with recruiting. Players came back (from fall break Sunday) night and were out on the field. I think the perfect situation would be to have an open week after the fourth or fifth week and then again after the eighth or ninth week. We can't do anything about it, but we've tried to take full advantage of the situation that we did have.”
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages the Pokes had during the bye weeks was the opportunity to get starting quarterback Wes Lunt a little free time to get healthy. Lunt, of course, is OSU’s true freshman QB who won the starting job in the preseason and then was injured in the opener. Red-shirt freshman J.W. Walsh replaced him and the off weeks were good for him, as well.
“It's beneficial to Wes Lunt for getting his health back, it's beneficial to J.W. Walsh getting reps and from that end of it we had a couple other guys banged up,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “So the bye week was beneficial more than anything.”
Speaking of Lunt and Walsh, Gundy said on Monday morning’s Big 12 coaches teleconference that Lunt had returned to practice but he did not offer any further comment on which of his two young QBs would be starting on Saturday against the Jayhawks.
Monken was not as guarded with his evaluation of the position.
“Wes was out there throwing the other night in pads,” Monken said. “He threw the ball really well, and that gave us some encouragement. We just have to get to the point where we are confident he can run. He ran a little bit the other night, so we're hopeful to get him back this week so we can see if he can protect himself. I think that's the biggest thing. Also, seeing who gives us the best chance to win.”
As for when they would decide who that would be, Monken also hinted at a time frame for the decision.
“It'll be midweek because someone has to take the reps with the ones,” he said. “You have to move in the direction that you want to go with your offense. Obviously, we'll know. Now whether everyone around the country will know, I don't know, but we will.”
As expected, the Cowboys players offered up nothing but respect for the Jayhawks, despite KU’s less-than-stellar record.
“We’re not far enough along and we're not mature enough at key positions to overlook anyone at any time,” Gundy said. “It’s been several years now that we’ve been talking about the parity in college football and especially in this conference. You just have to look at the scores across the country and it's getting more and more exciting for television networks and the fans, but more difficult for the coaches. If you turn the ball over a couple times and miss a few tackles and the other team hits a few plays, then you can be in a difficult situation in the fourth quarter. You just have to look at the scores and you can see that happening every Saturday.”
OSU’s crew went beyond that type of general respect for the Jayhawks, with the KU running game receiving the most praise from the Cowboys’ defense.
“They're really good at scheming around the defense,” OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey said. “They played Kansas State really well until the second half. They were right there. We can't take any game off, especially this one. Kansas is a good team, and they're capable of beating anybody any week. It's a game that we have to prepare hard for. Especially playing on the road, we can't get down early.”
Lavey continued: “This week, we really have to watch our keys. This offense is one that is going to try to get you out of your correct position, so you have to know where you are, where you're supposed to be, where you're lined up and use your eyes a lot.”
Added defensive tackle Davidell Collins, who was particularly impressed with KU’s offensive line: “They look good. They are experienced and all that. They are going to give us a challenge on the inside."
Oklahoma State leads the all-time series with Kansas, 30-29-3. That includes a 17-15-1 advantage in games played in Lawrence. On the flip side, KU leads in games played in Stillwater, 14-13-2.
Last year’s 70-28 victory by the Cowboys in Stillwater represents the largest margin of victory by either side in the series and OSU currently owns a two-game winning streak over the Jayhawks.
KU’s last win in the series came in 2007 when the fifth-ranked Jayhawks topped OSU, 43-28, in Stillwater during their magical 12-1, Orange Bowl championship season.