The Oklahoma State Cowboys are coming off of an 8-5 year where they won the Heart of Dallas bowl over Purdue. They are looking to get back to the upper echelon of the Big XII and when you return 15 starters from last season, it is a safe bet you will. Obviously there are things out of a coach or players control such as injuries that will affect how your season goes. But Mike Gundy has another strong team in Stillwater and he wants to lead his team back to the top of the mountain. Some experts will favor them to win the Big XII and consider them a dark horse national championship contender, but are they really?
The Cowboys won’t be breaking in a brand new quarterback this year, but due to injuries last year, neither of the top two saw a consistent string of playing time. Scheduled starter is going be senior Clint Chelf, who started five games last year and threw for 1,588 yards. If he struggles, or gets injured then Sophomore JW Walsh will be waiting in the wings for his chance to steal the job. Staying healthy will be the key for the Cowboys quarterbacks this year, because they had three different ones take snaps last year and not having someone consistently out there can hurt team chemistry. But for Gundy, he has two very talented players who can get the job done. Oklahoma State has had six consecutive seasons with at least one 1,000 yard running back, but this year Senior Jeremy Smith and Junior Desmond Roland will have a chore to achieve that feat, because both of these running backs didn’t even crest 600 yards last year. Both the guys will be able to eat up some yards and keep the ball moving on the ground, but don’t expect them to match suck lofty expectations from seasons past.
With past receivers like Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon, there will be some mighty big shoes to fill for this year’s crop. Seniors Charlie Moore and Tracy Moore will have had the task of trying to fill those shoes. With any successes from the quarterback position will help bring big time plays to Stillwater. The Offensive line will need to keep defenses off of the quarterback, and while they have three returning starters, they will have their hands full with opposing defenses. This probably won’t be the most explosive offensive unit for the Cowboys, but they will be able to put points up in bunches.
The defense will return seven starters as a whole, and they will have their hands full with Big XII offenses who throw the ball around and score points at will, at least they don’t have to play in the SEC. The defensive line will be anchored by senior Calvin Barnett, who was Big XII newcomer player of the year last year. The linebackers return 4 of the top 6 and will rely on senior leadership from Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis. This could be an explosive unit if the defensive line can get a push.
The defensive secondary have seven of their top eight back from last season and hope to resemble more of the 2011 unit than last years. They will need to work together as a group to keep some of the more explosive receiving units in the conference in check. If this group can achieve their potential, then Oklahoma State will be near the top of the conference.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys are a dark horse pick to win the Big XII this year, and they could reach that potential with a little luck. But I think they will fall just short of that goal and wind up in a nice bowl game instead of a BCS. But it will be another successful season for Gundy and another building block toward the ultimate goal.
9/28-At West Virginia-L
10/26-At Iowa St.-W
11/2-At Texas Tech-L
2013 Record: 9-3