Shootout? No. 24 Oklahoma State hosts No. 17 Boise State
By CLIFF BRUNT
Two of the nation's top offenses will be on display when No. 24 Oklahoma State hosts No. 17 Boise State on Saturday in a big game for both.
Oklahoma State (2-0) leads the nation with 674.5 yards per game and ranks eighth in scoring with 56.5 points per game. The Cowboys have been nearly unstoppable, cruising past Missouri State 58-17 and South Alabama 55-13.
Boise State (2-0) ranks fourth nationally in total offense with 617 yards per game and fifth in scoring offense (59 ppg). The Broncos dominated Troy 56-20 in their opener, then rolled past Connecticut 62-7 last week .
Boise State's Brett Rypien could push his way into the Heisman Trophy conversation with a strong performance on the road against the Cowboys. The senior has passed for more than 10,000 yards in his career and enters the game as the nation's active leader in yards passing and completions.
"I think this young man is going to play in the NFL," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said.
Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill also could emerge on the national stage with a big performance against a high-profile non-conference opponent. He has had limited action in two blowout wins for the Cowboys, but he has 154 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 carries. He has 2,763 yards rushing in his career, 10th best in school history.
"You talk about lightning in a bottle," Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. "A guy that can move. Probably a guy you can't simulate in practice. You're just going to have to prepare by mentally practicing fast to go out there and make plays on a guy like that."
Boise State's choice to schedule Oklahoma State is another effort the Broncos have made to raise their profile. Boise State will play Florida State in 2019 and 2020, Oklahoma State in 2021, Michigan State on 2022 and 2023, and Oregon in 2024, 2025 and 2026. Harsin said the Mountain West Conference powerhouse likes the idea of facing strong Power Five teams early.
"Those type of teams that we're playing - to me, that's kind of a part of how our program's developed over time," Harsin said. "I think those games are good for our program."
Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius, a redshirt senior, seeks his first career win as a starter against a ranked opponent. He has completed 67 percent of his passes for 728 yards and six touchdowns in wins against Missouri State and South Alabama this season. Gundy said Cornelius settled down last game against South Alabama.
"He has a high level of really quiet confidence in my opinion, and I think we saw more of that in the last game in that he didn't toss the ball, he threw the ball," Gundy said. "I think each week, he'll get a little better."
Tylan Wallace has emerged as one of his favorite targets. The sophomore had 10 catches for 166 yards last week against South Alabama and has a touchdown reception in both games this season.
Boise State's Sean Modster is becoming a force. He has 13 catches for 241 yards and two touchdowns this season and has become the top option now that Cedric Wilson is with the Dallas Cowboys. The senior had only 43 catches in his career before this season.
First-year Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles could cause problems for Rypien with his pressure defense. The Cowboys, maligned for their defense in recent years, rank ninth in the nation in total defense. Defensive end Jordan Brailford leads the team with 2.0 sacks this season.
Boise State's Alexander Mattison provides balance to Boise State's offense. The junior ran for more than 1,000 yards last year and was a preseason all-Mountain West pick this season. The 5-foot-11, 211-pound sparkplug has rushed for 1,585 yards and 19 touchdowns in his career.
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Updated September 14, 2018