Oklahoma State Season Win Total Prediction
Even in the pass-happy Big 12, a true contender for the conference championship must gain tough yards on the ground. That explains precisely where Oklahoma State went wrong in 2015.
After a 10-0 start, Mike Gundy’s squad ended the year on a three-game losing skid. The final blemish, a 48-20 annihilation at the hands of Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, forced some of the Stillwater faithful to consider whether the campaign’s first three-plus months had merely been a mirage. Online sports book Bovada.lv remains bullish on the Cowboys as the Sept. 3 opener nears, however, listing their projected win total at eight.
OSU returns a staggering 16 starters from a season ago. At the head of that class: quarterback Mason Rudolph, who threw for 3,770 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore. His dynamic rapport with top vertical threat James Washington will surely continue to infuriate opposing defensive coordinators across the country. Washington hauled in 53 catches and 10 scores last fall, consistently burning cornerbacks with his top-end speed.
Again, though, a one-dimensional attack only travels so far. The Pokes just finished No. 114 in rushing, averaging a woeful 3.58 yards per tote. If senior Chris Carson fails to provide significant production from the outset, look for Stanford graduate transfer Barry J. Sanders to steal a large number of reps.
Regardless of the main guy in the backfield, Oklahoma State needs the offensive line to open up additional holes. That shouldn’t turn into an issue given the arrival of Larry Williams. The JUCO All-American joins a very experienced group in the trenches for position coach Greg Adkins.
On D, the Cowboys face the specter of shoring up the interior without the aid of Emmanuel Ogbah. The ferocious end went to the Cleveland Browns with the 32nd overall pick in April’s NFL draft. Fortunately, linebacker Jordan Burton and safety Jordan Sterns appear ready to embrace greater responsibilities. That tandem combined for 206 tackles last season, motoring from sideline to sideline with seemingly boundless energy. The supporting cast features burgeoning sophomores Jordan Brailford, Jarrell Owens and Cole Walterschied.
The nucleus on campus is still quite raw, so mistakes are inevitable. Nonetheless, Gundy has captured at least 10 contests in two of the past three campaigns. Triumphs at Texas, West Virginia and Texas in 2015 undoubtedly prepped this crew for the forthcoming road battles against TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor, too. Count on OSU to reach that patented double-digit mark by virtue of a bowl victory.
SUNDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL FREE PICK: OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS OVER 8 WINS