In our season preview e-book, we predicted that Oklahoma State was going to take a major step back in 2014 and that a simple bowl bid should be considered a major success for Mike Gundy and the OSU program. We even mentioned that the back-loaded aspect of their schedule might lull fans and media into false confidence, but the piper was going to get paid starting in October.
That didn't sit well with a couple of readers and the media had OSU ranked as high as 15th in the country as recently as mid-October. More or less insane, but proof that OSU going 41-11 since 2010 had buoyed media perception of the program such that it's an easy pencil-in on the weekly ballot. In that sense, that's a real achievement by Gundy and proof of what he has accomplished there.
Three consecutive whippings at the hands of TCU, West Virginia and Kansas State (average margin of victory 30 points) shocked the media and coach's polls back to objective reality. With Texas, Baylor and OU looming, the 5-4 Cowboys could very well close the season at 5-7.
Not surprisingly, Oklahoma State and Texas each view the other as their best chance for bowl eligibility.
Gundy isn't really doing anything wrong. He lost his best assistant coach, has the least experienced team in the league not named Texas and OSU is struggling in all of the places (QB, OL) that Texas fans are being reminded tend to influence win outcomes.
Let's dig in on some of those issues:
QB Daxx Garman leads the Cowboys offense. He has a strange history.
The short version: ruled ineligible as an Oklahoma prep junior for playing for a school not in his district and they forfeited all games and was banned, tried to play his senior year at Southlake Carroll, but DFW muckraker news media and Southlake trophy parents raised a stink when the Garman's tried the "yes, we live there!" home rental trick, his Dad threw a bag of ice at a camera man while sporting an OU shirt at a gas station, Garman sat out his senior year of high school, went to Arizona on scholarship, then transferred from Arizona to OSU. Whew.
He's got a good arm and can spin it. Particularly good at throwing deep balls. His decision-making can be terrible and over the last three games against solid defenses he has thrown 1 touchdown and six interceptions while going 43 of 89 for 522 yards (that's 5.9 YPA - Swoopesian). In his defense, he gets hit and sacked a lot (25 sacks allowed on the season), there are no Dez Bryants or Justin Blackmons running around campus (I mean the practice facilities - neither Bryant or Blackmon ever went on campus) and the Cowboy running game is forgettable (set over/under at 160). OSU seems to miss TEXAS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND PLAY CALLER Joe Wickline quite a bit.
Tyreek Hill (Daxx to Tyreek! Actual game call or bad science fiction prose?) is their best threat with the ball in his hands. He's your 185 pound scatback type that runs some and is good out of the backfield. Sort of like if we used Daje.
Other than Hill against our LBs, the Cowboys match up quite poorly with this Texas defense. We don't surrender much over the top, our DL should feast on 3rd and long and our tackling has been pretty solid. If Gundy is going to throw together an inspired game plan for this defense and the weather conditions, it's probably going to involve a bunch of creative spread run sets using option, quick throws for drive continuation, diamond formations and Wildcat looks. I don't see where else he can go.
OSU doesn't have a particularly good defense, but they like to bring pressure and they have some talent at cornerback in Kevin Peterson. After the 2nd half of stewed garbage Texas threw on the field against the Mountaineers, that's more than enough to give us problems if we can't make basic football plays.
DE Emmanuel Ogbah has 9 sacks on the year and they love to bring undersized LB/S Josh Furman (5 sacks) on blitzes on any probable passing down. James Castleman is a solid run stopping DT inside, but the rest of the OSU defense is very, very ordinary.
Texas has shown signs of life in the running game for two weeks straight and that may be just the spark required to get things rolling in inclement weather.
OSU should outnumber us and blitz the hell out of us. If Swoopes continues to play like Andy Dalton in a Bengal playoff game and our wide receivers continue to run routes seemingly by random rather than attempt to get on the same page as their QB, I'm sure our Scotsman gets a workout. Watson either needs to cajole the Texas passing game to operate at Highland Park JV levels of efficiency against single coverage blitz man or he might want to start doodling some blitz busting calls that aren't predicated on offensive fluency. Sure, we'll be upset when the tunnel screen or swing pass to Gray goes for 3 yards on 3rd and 9, but at least we'll be failing differently.