Oklahoma State hopes to fare better against Symons

Updated: October 17, 2003, 2:20 PM ET

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Three years of lopsided losses have taught Oklahoma State this: avoid shootouts with Texas Tech.

"You can't do that," Oklahoma State coach Les Miles said. "You can't match them punch for punch."

Trying to do that plays right into the playbook of Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and his latest record-setting quarterback, B.J. Symons.

Symons leads the nation in almost every significant passing statistic, decimating opponents with such ease that it's made Red Raider fans forget all about the exploits of his predecessor, Kliff Kingsbury.

The strong-armed senior will try to add to those staggering numbers Saturday when Texas Tech plays at No. 23 Oklahoma State in what's recently become a one-sided series. The Red Raiders (5-1, 2-0 Big 12) have won three straight and six of the last seven games against Oklahoma State.

"We've had some big games against them and it's always turned out real good for us," Tech coach Mike Leach said. "There no specific trends or anything in that."

Well, except for Kingsbury's complete dominance of the Cowboys (5-1, 1-1).

In three games against Oklahoma State, Kingsbury threw for 1,101 yards and 11 touchdowns. Tech won those games 58-0, 49-30 and 49-24.

Now here comes Symons, who's thrown for 2,954 yards and 27 touchdowns as the Red Raiders (5-1, 2-0) have become surprise contenders for the Big 12 South crown. More surprising is that Symons looks like more of a problem for the Cowboys than Kingsbury ever did.

"I don't think Kingsbury was ever putting up numbers like this," Oklahoma State cornerback Darrent Williams said. "We haven't played good against these guys at all. We've got a lot of things to prove against them."

Miles said he'll attempt to confuse Symons by putting some pressure on him and switching up coverages. That's obviously easier said than done.

"Teams always want to try to do something different that maybe we're not expecting or haven't seen to try to keep up off balance," Symons said. "I just feel comfortable to this point with everything that we have seen from game to game and I feel like we have seen everything that we could see."

It doesn't bode well for Oklahoma State that it gave up 332 yards passing and four touchdowns to Kansas State's Ell Roberson in a 38-34 win. Both figures represented career highs for the mostly ground-bound K-State quarterback.

Symons could be a hobbled a bit, though, after slightly twisting his knee while celebrating a touchdown pass in Tech's 52-21 win over Iowa State last week. He promised earlier this week to be at full strength Saturday.

Oklahoma State's offense has some firepower of its own, too.

Since a season-opening loss to Nebraska, the Cowboys have had little trouble moving the ball in five straight victories. Oklahoma State has the nation's fifth-ranked scoring offense at 40.5 points a game -- Texas Tech is second with 46.8 -- behind the play of tailback Tatum Bell and receiver Rashaun Woods.

Bell is the Big 12's second-leading rusher (107.8 yards a game) and Woods is third nationally in receiving yards per game (109.5).

"(They) make them really balanced, and makes it somewhat more difficult than (teams) we have played in the past," Tech defensive coordinator Lyle Setenich said.

What concerns Miles almost as much as Tech's offense, however, is the pressure the Red Raiders can put on an opposing offense to score.

The Cowboys can't afford to panic on offense should Symons start clicking, Miles said.

"You have to do what you do," he said. "You can't afford for what they're doing on offense to manipulate what you're doing on offense. We're going to have to stick to our strengths."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index