Originally posted on College Football Zealots  |  Last updated 11/18/11


Last week Stanford and Boise State fell from the land of the undefeated teams and it has opened the door for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys are now projected to play in the BCS National Championship Game against the LSU Tigers if both teams win the rest of their games. I think it's safe to say that the eyes of America are now on Mike Gundy and his team. Fans from Louisiana are watching them closely as a potential opponent. The rest of America is watching them and hoping they will fall so their team will get a chance to get back into the race for the Crystal Trophy.

This spring we had Oklahoma State in our Top 10 at #7 but there was some doubt in our minds. How would the Cowboys respond to losing their Offensive Coordinator for the second straight year? How would they replace the production that Kendall Hunter gave them from the RB position? Would the defense be able to play at the level needed to win a competitive Big 12?

The offense has responded by averaging 51.7 points per game (second to only Houston) which is an improvement by over 7.5 ppg. The Cowboys are averaging 565.3 yards per game and that is an improvement of 45 yards over last year. RB Joseph Randle has emerged out of the backfield to replace Kendall Hunter. He's not averaging as many yards per game but already has more rushing TDs than Hunter had all of last year (21 to 16). Randle is also more of a danger to catch the ball out of the backfield as he has 12 more receptions than Hunter did last year with three games left to play. Statistically the defense is about the same that they were last year but one area that has really improved is takeaways. Through 13 games last year, Oklahoma State had 34 takeaways. The Cowboys defense has already equalled that number through only 10 games this year. Oklahoma State's turnover margin this year sits at +1.8, which is a big improvement over last years impressive +.92

In addition to Randle, the Cowboys can thank their terrific tandem of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon for their improved offense numbers. Weeden has played himself into Heisman consideration by averaging 363 yards passing per game, completing 73% of his passes and posting a 31:9 TD to INT ratio. All Justin Blackmon had done is catch 93 passes for 1,142 yards and 14 TDs. Our NFL guy, has both being selected in the first two rounds of next years draft with Blackmon going #2 overall.

Things are good in Stillwater. Up until now Oklahoma State has been playing under relatively little pressure. There is always pressure when you play in a conference as good as the Big 12 but now the pressure is coming from all over America, not just inside of Oklahoma. The schedule that remains pits the Cowboys up against the Iowa State Cyclones (5-4 overall, 2-4 in the Big 12) this weekend and then the rivalry showdown known as the "Bedlam Series" against the Sooners of Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1). On first glance it's easy to dismiss Iowa State but they are better than you might think. In fact, we actually recommended Ole Miss turn to Iowa State Head Coach Paul Rhoades to fix their program now that Houston Nutt has been shown the door. You can catch this weeks match-up on ESPN and should the Cowboys win (which they should) then it will be a de-facto Big 12 Championship Game that will decide if the Cowboys are ready to play for the BCS National Championship. Buckle up Cowboys, all eyes are on you.

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