image via lh4.ggpht.com
Did You Know...
- That Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is a man?
- That he's actually 41?
- That part of OSU booster T. Boone Pickens' energy plan are windmills on either side of the Oklahoma State stadium? That way he can ensure OSU is always kicking with the wind and their opponents are kicking against it.
- Oklahoma's NBA fans are so wound up in getting a new franchise that they fail to realize the way in which they got it undermines the very sanctity of professional basketball?
- That while people make a big deal out of Coach Gundy's post-game tirade, few people even read the article in question, much less realize that it was in fact an awful piece of journalism?
The O-line - Oklahoma State's offensive line returns four of five starters from a 2007 unit that allowed just 11 sacks in 13 games. In addition to protecting the quarterback, the Cowboys averaged an impressive 243.2 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys lose their starting running back from 2007, but return quarterback Zac Robinson who dashed for 847 yards of his own last season. The first game of the season will give the Cougars an excellent idea of what to expect for their last home game of the season against Jake Locker. Speaking of the quarterback...
The Passing Game - With a 23/9 TD/INT ratio, 64% completion percentage and 149.0 quarterback rating, duel threat Zac Robinson should have little trouble operating a spread offense that lit up scoreboards during the Pokes' 7-6 season. Of those 11 sacks allowed, Robinson was only the victim of five during the entire campaign. Wideout Dez Bryant and TE Brandon Pettigrew give OSU high octane options for Robinson to throw to. The offense averaged 243.2 passing yards per game - that's the exact same number put up by the running game in '07. Keeping that balance will be key to OK State's success this upcoming season.
The Pass Defense - A near mirror image of WSU's defensive woes, the 2007 Cowboys were a team that couldn't be stopped on offense and couldn't stop anyone on defense. OSU allowed 287.2 yards per game passing and surrendered nearly 30 points in the same span. While five games against top 30 Sagarin Ranking opponents and the #18 strength of schedule didn't help, OSU expects to see some improvement if another Bowl game is in order for 2008.
Kicking - Maybe a little nitpicking here, but again, like WSU, Oklahoma State will be throwing an unproven kicker out onto the field in front of 50,000+ fans in Seattle. At least they seem to have a better idea of the starter, sophomore Dan Bailey, whose career long FG is 28 yards. Matt Fodge is the punter, who averaged 42.4 yards per punt last season. Still slightly better than WSU's rugby-style punter Reid Forrest who averaged 40.5 yards despite his magical ability to get a good bounce on every kick.
One special teams area not of concern for the Cowboys - the return game, bolstered by defensive back Perrish Cox. I prefer to call him Perry Cox, and most Scrubs fans out there will agree. Just know that he's ree-hee-heeealy good at returning kicks.
Prognosis - A good year should be in order for OSU and a bowl game is very likely. If the 'Boys get past WSU they have consecutive home games against Houston, Missouri State and Troy. 4-0 is a strong possibility, in which case you'll probably start to see Robinson's name appear on some Heisman watch lists. The rest of the schedule isn't quite as generous, and it's the Big XII season that will decide their fate. The WSU game is actually vital to their chances in 2008. The road slate is brutal, with games at Mizzou, A&M, Texas Tech and Colorado. The road-neutral contest in Seattle will be a good opportunity to pick up a win away from Stillwater, but keep in mind the Pokes will be facing the biggest "home" crowd of the year for the Cougs (expected at well over 50,000). The Cowboys are really only a few pieces away from being a BCS contender (most of those being on defense), but for now it seems likely that OSU will have another solid season capped off with a Bowl appearance.
CougCenter Predicted Record: 7-5
The Game - Oklahoma State should be favored to win in Seattle, but the defense gives the new Cougar offense a chance to shine in its debut. I'll have my prediction in the Pre-game post, as we draw closer to the season opener.