COUGAR TRACKS

BYU vs. Oklahoma State: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Nov 25, 2023, 12:19 AM

STILLWATER, Okla. – BYU vs Oklahoma State will be squaring off today for the first time in the regular season. It’s also the first meeting between the two programs as Big 12 foes.

The last time these programs squared off on the gridiron against one another was in the 1976 Tangerine Bowl. Before that, there was another bowl game, the 1974 Fiesta Bowl.

BYU is 0-2 all-time against Oklahoma State.

There’s a lot at stake in this game as BYU enters the matchup at 5-6, needing one more win to clinch bowl eligibility. For Oklahoma State, they are 8-3 overall, 6-2 in the Big 12. It’s simple for the Pokes: if they win, they are in the Big 12 Championship Game to face Texas.

If BYU defeats Oklahoma State, the Oklahoma Sooners will play in the Big 12 Championship Game.

BYU vs No. 21 Oklahoma State

Location: Boone Pickens Stadium

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (MST)

TV: ABC

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM) — Extended Pregame begins at 10 a.m. (MST)

It’s time for the 3-2-1 game preview for BYU’s week 13 matchup against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Three Game Day Thoughts

1. Do-or-die for BYU

If BYU wants to extend its season, they have to come up with a victory today against Oklahoma State in Stillwater. A loss would send BYU home for the Holidays for the second time in the Kalani Sitake era.

If Oklahoma State comes out victorious, it would also end BYU’s season with a five-game losing streak. That hasn’t happened since 1955.

2. BYU should go with Jake Retzlaff at quarterback

The big storyline for BYU this week as they prepare for Oklahoma State is at quarterback. Who will be the starter, Jake Retzlaff or Kedon Slovis?

Slovis was a full participant in practice for the second consecutive week. Retzlaff is looking to earn his fourth straight start at quarterback.

There probably wouldn’t be a debate right now on who to start if Retzlaff hadn’t thrown an interception that resulted in a 100-yard pick-six last week to Oklahoma.

The positive for BYU from having Retzlaff in at quarterback is that it opened up the ground attack for the first time this season. That might be enough to push Retzlaff over the top as the starter. Also, whether you win or lose, it’s probably in BYU’s best interest to continue gathering intel and give him a chance to make a case to be the starting quarterback in 2024.

But, if Retzlaff has a catastrophic turnover like he did against Oklahoma and the week prior against Iowa State, there should be no reservations from the coaching staff to insert Kedon Slovis as the quarterback. It’s a must-win situation. You have to do whatever it takes to find a way to win the game.

3. Ollie Gordon is one of the best running backs in the nation

BYU football is well aware of Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon’s talent. The Cougars offered Gordon while he was a prep standout in Fort Worth, Texas in 2020.

BYU was one of the first programs to offer the underrecruited ball carrier who has become a star for Oklahoma State this season.

Gordon has rushed for 1,414 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. He’s averaging 6.7 yards per carry this season. BYU’s rush defense is struggling. The Cougars are 109th nationally in rush defense, allowing 177.3 yards per game.

Two BYU vs Oklahoma State Questions

1. How motivated is BYU to win this game?

The BYU football program had a Thanksgiving dinner with players, coaches, support staff, spouses, and children on Wednesday night at Magleby’s. Typically, those dinners are reserved for bowl season when going to a postseason game.

This year, there’s no guarantee of a postseason game unless they win today.

Are BYU players motivated to get that sixth win, or do they already sense the end is here for this inaugural Big 12 squad?

It’s one of the burning questions I have for this game. Last week, I was impressed with the fight and the willingness to compete against Oklahoma. But after putting everything in their preparation to pull out that win and still come up short, does it cause a letdown here in Stillwater?

2. Can BYU produce some takeaways?

When BYU started the season 4-1, they were one of the nation’s top teams in turnover margin. The past three weeks, the BYU defense and special teams have done no favors for QB Jake Retzlaff. BYU has produced zero takeaways in the last three games.

If BYU is going to pull out a win or, at a minimum, make it close as they did against Oklahoma, at least two takeaways will be needed. BYU’s secondary of Eddie Heckard, Kamden Garrett, and Jakob Robinson are the players to watch to create some short fields for BYU’s offense.

One Score Prediction for BYU vs Oklahoma State

I’m not too fond of this spot for BYU. Last week, the body language from BYU players walking off the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium appeared dejected.

Now they have to find a way to clinch bowl eligibility on the road, where they have lost all of their Big 12 road games by double figures. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State’s home-field advantage has earned rave reviews from head coach Mike Gundy for the support and enthusiasm they’ve shown in Stillwater this fall.

It should be another hostile environment as Oklahoma State has a bid in the Big 12 Championship Game and a date with Texas on the line in this game.

BYU felt like the team in the NBA Finals or World Series that’s up 3-2 and suffered a heartbreaking loss in Game 6 and just couldn’t recapture the momentum in Game 7. That’s what I’m sensing here in Stillwater as BYU’s season ends with Oklahoma State moving on to play in the Big 12 title game.

Oklahoma State 38, BYU 17

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU vs. Oklahoma State: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction