COLUMBIA - Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy refuses to bat his eyes. Sure, Missouri's offense has short-circuited scoreboards with an average of 53.4 points per game, second best in the country. Sure, the Tigers have tossed around opposing defenses like sandbags before a monsoon. But he won't insist that the Cowboys inject their offensive game plan with juice to keep pace with MU.
Gundy would rather stare down the Tigers' challenge.
"I don't think you can let that affect you," he said of Missouri's scoring ability. "You have to continue with your game plan on the offensive side of the ball and do the best you can to prepare your players and put them in position to have success."
So far, Gundy has. No. 17 Oklahoma State (5-0, 1-0 Big 12 Conference) boasts the nation's second-best rushing threat with an average of 315.2 yards per game, led by tailback Kendall Hunter's 141.6. Guided by quarterback Zac Robinson, a first-year starter, Oklahoma State ranks third nationally in scoring offense, averaging 52.6 points per game. Gundy and his offensive staff welcome the opportunity to keep pace with MU's prolific spread attack Saturday night in Columbia, and they don't plan to alter their approach.
They have no reason to. After beating Washington State, 39-13, in the season opener, Oklahoma State has scored at least 55 points in each game. Before Texas A&M held him to 90 yards on 21 carries last Saturday, Hunter averaged 154.5 rushing yards per game. Wide receiver Dez Bryant ranks fifth nationally with 110 receiving yards per game. He has caught nine touchdown passes and has another two touchdowns on punt returns.
Last week, the Cowboys overcame their season's most sluggish half with defensive and special-teams production. In the first half against Texas A&M, Oklahoma State's offense was held to a lone touchdown - a 29-yard strike from Robinson to Bryant. But defensive end Ugo Chinasa (6 yards) and linebacker Patrick Lavine (22 yards) returned interceptions for touchdowns. Bryant also ran back a punt return 78 yards for a score, helping to give the Cowboys a 28-7 lead and avert the potential upset.
"I don't think there was any question, offensively, that we were stumbling around and we weren't executing very well," Gundy said.
"Defensively, we scored points and put the offense in position to take advantage of that and kept the momentum on our side."
Although both teams run productive variations of the spread offense, time of possession stands as the most noticeable statistical difference between MU's and Oklahoma State's systems. In the category, the Cowboys rank No. 10 nationally, holding onto possession for an average of 32:47 per game. The Tigers rank No. 118, averaging 26:07.
The stat could play a factor if Oklahoma State considers in-game adjustments. Should the Tigers gain an early lead, the Cowboys might be forced into uncomfortable quick-strike situations. Should Oklahoma State hold a lead late, they have shown the ability to maintain discipline and control tempo.
Oklahoma State's staff remains confident in their team's strategy. Although Saturday's game has the potential to produce eye-popping offensive totals, they say there's no reason to alter their team's routine. They respect the challenge MU presents, but it doesn't mean the Cowboys' offense will be burdened with pressure to produce.
"We don't change our routine no matter who we are playing," said Gunter Brewer, Oklahoma State's co-offensive coordinator. "We go in and prepare for the defense with whatever it shows us that Sunday (before the game) on throughout the week until Saturday. We do what we do just like Missouri does what they do."