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Top 25 preview: Oklahoma State at Texas-San Antonio

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KICKOFF: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET

GAMEDATE: 9/7/13

SITE: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

TV: FOX Sports 1

SERIES: First meeting

AP RANKINGS: Oklahoma State No. 13, UTSA unranked


Oklahoma State manhandled Mississippi State, 21-3, last Saturday at Reliant Stadium in Houston and plays another neutral field game in Texas against Texas-San Antonio. A new member to Conference USA, the Roadrunners beat New Mexico 21-13 last week.


Defense will never be Oklahoma State's calling card.

Hey, the Cowboys play in the Big 12. Often under Mike Gundy, they have been trendsetters in devising a breakneck attack league rivals later copied.

Yet at the end of last season, Gundy was convinced his program needed a defensive makeover. Bill Young was fired as coordinator and later told the media that he was informed a younger face was needed. That face happened to be another coach on the staff, Glenn Spencer.

So far, so good in terms of any changes. After vowing to let his defense play with a free mind and also attack, Spencer watched as Oklahoma State smothered Mississippi State. The win pushed the Cowboys to 1-0 entering an untraditional road game at Texas-San Antonio.

Over the summer, Gundy told his defenders to buy into the system with an unselfish approach. The result would enable the Cowboys to have "a chance to be as good as we have been on defense," Gundy said.

"It's only one game," he cautioned. "We've got a long ways to go. But I'll say that I was pleased with their performance and I thought our coaches did a nice job of make of making adjustments."

That was evident as Mississippi State gained 105 yards on its first two possessions, then settled for 228 yards the rest of the game. Over one stretch the Bulldogs failed to move the chains on 13 consecutive third down tries. Veteran linebacker Caleb Lavey led OSU with 11 tackles, while end Tyler Johnson led a dominant effort by the defensive front, which recorded three sacks. Justin Gilbert and Zack Craig snagged interceptions.

"We had guys that were running to the football," Gundy said. "I thought we did a better job of covering at the corner position than we have done the past few years. We were able to rotate some guys in and keep some guys fresh."

Gundy might even want to broaden his profile and steal some recognition as a defensive-minded coach. His OSU teams are 37-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 20 points.

In addition to the defensive intensity the Cowboys flashed on week one, the quarterback derby was settled ... at least for now. J.W. Walsh, who was the backup for the Mississippi State game, entered on the third series and played the remainder of the game in place of starter Clint Chelf. Walsh was declared the starter against UTSA (1-0).

The game against a BCS program marks an opportunity for the Roadrunners to prove themselves at the FBS level. UTSA rallied to surprise New Mexico 21-13 on Aug. 31. Quarterback Eric Soza passed for 237 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Roadrunners on a 99-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter. They trailed 13-0 but didn't allow New Mexico to score again in last week's opener.

"We have been in this situation before where we play teams who are putting everything into this game," Gundy said. "We have to be mature enough in our preparation and handle that responsibly and go down and play the game we need to play."



--S Shamiel Gary adapted to the more aggressive defensive approach by getting in on 10 tackles and breaking up three passes. The Cowboys have been instructed to think less and fly to the ball more on instinct. Gary benefitted most from that mindset in the 21-3 victory over Mississippi State on Aug. 31.

--RB Jeremy Smith has always shown the potential to move into the lead role as Oklahoma State's go-to rusher, but was often dinged, which left him saddled behind Joseph Randle. As a starter, Smith flourished against Mississippi State, gaining 102 yards on 15 carries, with two touchdowns.

--QB Clint Chelf started the opener, then was benched and lost the job to J.W. Walsh. Chelf is a trooper, rising from the third team to finish last season as Oklahoma State's starter. Still, how will he be affected by coach Mike Gundy's latest quirk? And will Chelf be effective when summoned?


QB Eric Soza -- He flipped two TD passes in the final 16 minutes of UTSA's season opener to carry a comeback for the Roadrunners. Soza and the Roadrunners struggled on third down, going just 3-of-10, and was the only ballcarrier with more than eight rushing attempts. Soza had a team-high 11 carries for 48 yards.

RB-WR Brandon Armstrong -- At 5-foot-6, the junior is a waterbug in the open field. He caught a 19-yard touchdown pass last week and had another 19-yard reception.
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