The Kansas Jayhawks are clinging to the slimmest of bowl hopes as they get set to face the no. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys this weekend. Kickoff is at noon EST on Saturday, November 16 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The game will be televised on FS1.
The latest betting odds have Oklahoma State favored by 17.5 points at home. The over/under for the game is set at 67 points. Be sure to check out a full list of this week’s college football betting odds.
It may not seem like it, but Les Miles has done a good job in his first season at Kansas. Quite frankly, if he can’t turn the program around, there’s probably no one who can. Last time out, the Jayhawks suffered a 38-10 loss at the hands of rival Kansas State. But Kansas has won games over Boston College and Texas Tech this season while also pushing both West Virginia and Texas to the very end in close losses. The Jayhawks would need to beat Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Baylor in consecutive weeks to qualify for a bowl game. Doing so is probably closer to fantasy than reality. But with Miles at the helm, you can’t count out Kansas pulling off a surprise late in the season.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are hoping that last week’s bye doesn’t take away their late-season momentum after back-to-back wins over Iowa State and TCU. Despite those wins, Oklahoma State is all but out of the running in the Big 12 title race. However, they have locked up a bowl appearance for a 14th straight season, which shows remarkable consistency for Mike Gundy and company. Another 10-win season isn’t out of the question either if Oklahoma State can take care of business against Kansas and West Virginia and perhaps pull off a surprise against Oklahoma the final week of the season.
In the meantime, the Cowboys will be looking to earn their 10th straight head-to-head win over Kansas. Oklahoma State has beaten the Jayhawks in each of the last nine seasons, including a 48-28 win last season. The Jayhawks haven’t been victorious over Oklahoma State since 2007, which was Gundy’s third season as head coach of the Cowboys.
There’s something about Miles coaching this Kansas team that has me intrigued. While the Jayhawks have been blown out on multiple occasions, this year they’ve also shown that they can hang with Big 12 opponents, which wasn’t always the case in the past. Also, keep in mind that Oklahoma State has just one win this season against an FBS opponent that came by more than 17 points, and that was against a Tulsa team that’s now 3-7. I think there’s enough reasonable doubt to avoid laying down the points in this game and lean toward the Jayhawks to beat the spread.
As is the case most years, my biggest concern with Oklahoma State is their defense. The Cowboys are giving up close to 30 points per game on the season, which is more than enough to make me nervous about laying down more than two touchdowns. Outside of Kansas State, every Big 12 team they’ve faced has scored at least 27 points, which doesn’t leave the Cowboys much margin for error with regard to cover the spread.
The Cowboys have had their biggest problems this season defending the pass, which is where the Jayhawks may be able to take advantage. Carter Stanley is rarely mentioned among the top quarterbacks in the Big 12, but he’s quietly put together a solid senior season. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions in conference play and had been playing at a high level before a rough game against K-State.
Kansas also has an underrated group of skill players. Andrew Parchment and Stephon Robinson are both capable wide receivers. Given how porous the Oklahoma State secondary has been this season, they have a chance to do some damage against the Cowboys. The Kansas rushing attack isn’t half bad either. Pooka Williams has had a nice year, averaging better than five yards per carry. Backup Velton Gardner has also proven to be a home run threat. Remember, the Jayhawks aren’t far removed from scoring 48 points against Texas, so the Kansas offense does have plenty of upside.
Of course, the Kansas defense will have to show some resistance against the OSU offense to keep the Jayhawks within striking distance. The Cowboys have one of the more dynamic offenses rushing attacks in the Big 12. Chuba Hubbard already has over 1,600 yards rushing in nine games, not to mention 18 rushing touchdowns. However, the Oklahoma State passing game can be inconsistent at times behind freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders. During Big 12 play, he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, which is a big reason why the Cowboys have struggled to pull away during their conference wins.
For the record, this is far from my favorite pick of the week. Kansas is still at a point when getting blown out is a realistic possibility. That being said, the Oklahoma State defense remains unreliable and Sanders can be mistake-prone given his inexperience. Between that and a Kansas offense that has proven to be capable of scoring points against bad defenses, I like my chances with the Jayhawks beating the 17.5-point spread.