Jenni Carlson’s Game Day in Oklahoma: Why OSU home attendance will be worth watching as the season progresses.
Oklahoma State football has been difficult for lots of Cowboy fans to watch this season.
You wouldn’t know it by the ticket sales in Stillwater.
Friday night’s game against Kansas State will be the third consecutive sellout this season. Season tickets sold out before the season began, but single-game tickets are being gobbled up, too. Every home game has been a sellout after the last of the tickets for the game against the Wildcats were scooped up last week.
Now, it’s entirely possible that lots of K-State faithful will be making their way to Stillwater. The Wildcats have a passionate fanbase, so the purple could be predominant Friday night.
But here’s an interesting note that might indicate it’s really Cowboy fans who are pushing the high numbers: OSU now has a waitlist for 2024 season tickets.
It all runs counter to the product on the field. The Cowboys are in free fall, struggling to beat Central Arkansas and Arizona State, then losing to South Alabama and Iowa State. (By the way, since dominating OSU, South Alabama has lost to Central Michigan and James Madison. Yikes.)
And still, OSU fans are buying tickets. Even though lots of Cowboy fans are frustrated with their team, they aren’t staying home on game day. It will be interesting to see how the attendance compares to the tickets sold moving forward, but up until now, lots of OSU fans are living what they sing in the alma mater.
Loyal and true.
Heading into Friday night’s game, here are some bite-sized bits for you to chew on.
Cowboy to watch: OSU’s run game has struggled all season, and now, it faces its toughest test of the season. K-State’s rush defense ranks an extremely stout sixth nationally, allowing only 73.2 yards a game. So, all eyes will be on Ollie Gordon, who emerged as the Cowboys’ primary ball carrier in the Iowa State game. He’ll obviously need help from his offensive line, but even with running lanes, Gordon will have to make some Wildcats miss.
Cowboy newcomer to watch: I’m still not entirely sure what the quarterback situation is. Mike Gundy indicated things were up in the air, but then, Alan Bowman was made available to reporters. What the what? Still, I’m going to assume Bowman starts and plays the entire game. I’m also going to assume he’s been taking all (or at least most) of the first-team reps in practice for the first time this season. How does he do with the bye week and this week of practice and prep? Bowman needs to bring it because as good as K-State’s rush defense is, the Wildcats’ pass defense is only so-so, ranking 113th nationally and allowing 264.2 yards a game.
Wildcat to watch: A new category, DJ Giddens gets the nod. The running back went wild against UCF, rushing for 207 yards and four touchdowns. It was the first 200-yard, four-touchdown rushing performance in program history. Only one Cowboy (Gordon, 230) has more rushing yards this season than Giddens had last time out.
A familiar face in Stillwater: There are four Wildcats who played their high school ball in Oklahoma. Cornerback Kanijal Thomas, a freshman from Del City, has played the most, appearing in every game this season. Also on the K-State sideline will be cornerback coach Van Malone, who spent time as an assistant at Tulsa and OSU; tight end coach Brian Lepak, who is from Claremore and played at OU; and director of strength and conditioning Trumain Carroll, who played at OSU and had two stints on the Cowboys’ strength staff.
Cool stat going into OSU-K-State: OSU hasn’t played a Friday home game since 1956. That game against Kansas kicked off at 2 p.m. (Most college football stadiums didn’t have lights for night games in those days.) Even though it’s been so long since the Cowboys last played on Friday in Stillwater, they’ve actually played quite a few Friday games in program history, going 57-46-7 all-time in those games. OSU’s most recent Friday game was at Oregon State in the 2019 season opener.
Did you know?: This is the fifth consecutive season in which K-State has played its first Big 12 road game in the state of Oklahoma. The Wildcats also had their first conference road game at OSU in 2019 and 2021 and at OU in 2020 and 2022.
Something to watch in Stillwater: Over the years, K-State has been known as a pound-and-ground offense. Not a lot of fireworks. Not a lot of points. That’s no longer the case. This season, the Wildcats are averaging 482.2 yards of total offense and 39.5 points a game. Both marks rank in the top 15 nationally. By comparison, OSU ranks 99th (343.5 yards) and 100th (22.0 points). Credit Collin Klein. The former Wildcat quarterback took over as offensive coordinator before the 2021 Texas Bowl, and since then, K-State has averaged 34.3 points a game.
If you go to Stillwater …: It’s a blackout game. OSU is foregoing its longstanding call of “wear orange” as fans are encouraged to wear black. Having been to a blackout game in Stillwater, I can tell you, it’s a cool, cool look.
If you don’t go …: You’ll be missing out on the first game where it feels like fall. Temperatures at kickoff are forecast to be in the mid-60s, and by game’s end, they’ll drop into the 50s.
Playing favorites: OSU has built up a fantastic tailgating scene, but K-State is one of the best in that category in the country. Those folks are serious about their pregaming. But how does the Wildcat tailgate travel, especially on a Friday? If it’s robust, put another feather in the cap of K-State’s tailgate scene.