Oklahoma State did some unexpected things last year, namely starting the season with 10-straight wins. Of course, the Cowboys lost their final three Games, the last two ending in blowouts to Oklahoma and Ole Miss. They did some impressive things, but ultimately didn’t have enough to come out on top in the Big 12. But with a load of starters returning — the most in the Conference — they should have another shot at the title this year.
The man to lead them there will have to be quarterback Mason Rudolph, who finished last year with 21 TDs and 9 INTs. This year, however, he won’t have J.W. Walsh to come in and give the offense an added spark. This time around, it’s all on Rudolph to lead the Cowboys. The good news is that his top receivers are back in James Washington (1,087 yards, 10 TDs) and Marcell Ateman (766 yards, 5 TDs). The fast-paced offense will try and build on what it started last year with Rudolph.
But to get there, the Pokes need some sort of running Game. The offensive line will have experience with all starters returning, but can that group improve? This offense averaged just 3.6 yards per carry last season. Chris Carson (517 yards, 4 TDs) and Rennie Childs return in the backfield, but it may be transfer Barry Sanders that could get this ground Game going. If not, OK State will probably come up short in the bigger Games.
A part of that reason also comes on the defensive end, where the Cowboys gave up 45, 48 and 58 points in their three losses last year. Like the offense, the defense returns a lot of talent, but will be without their two best players.
They lose their two ends and will need someone to get after the quarterback. As it looks after spring, they’ll turn to Four different sophomores in those spots and those guys looked solid in the scrimmage. The linebackers are set led by Jordan Burton, while there’s only one notable hole in the secondary with senior safety Jordan Sterns leading the unit.
This defense was gashed against good offenses last year, and can’t let that happen again if they want to win the Big 12.
The Cowboys should get out of non-Conference play fine, but that could change with an early Big 12 trip to Baylor in their first Conference Game. If they can get past that, maybe another 10-0 start is possible, as long as they can get by Iowa State and West Virginia at home and Kansas State on the road. The last two Games are when it gets interesting, though. OK State travels to TCU, gets a weekend off and then travels to Oklahoma in the finale.
The Cowboys have a lot of talent returning, but will that be enough to beat the better teams in the conference? If not, another solid bowl Game should be expected, but the College Football Playoff may be off the table.
2016 Oklahoma State Cowboys Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. SE Louisiana
Sept. 10 vs. Central Michigan
Sept. 17 vs. Pittsburgh
Sept. 24 at Baylor
Oct 1 vs. Texas
Oct. 8 vs. Iowa State
Oct. 22 at Kansas
Oct. 29 vs. West Virginia
Nov. 5 at Kansas State
Nov. 12 vs. Texas Tech
Nov. 19 at TCU
Dec. 3 at Oklahoma