This weekend, the Oklahoma State Cowboys finally get to take on the Texas Longhorns in Stillwater, Oklahoma after going into Austin, TX and beating UT in back-to-back years.
It won’t be an easy home game for the Cowboys—far from it, in fact. Texas has a legit defense and a great running game to go with a more than serviceable quarterback. It’s going to be tough for the young Oklahoma State team.
The Cowboys are still a little raw, especially at the quarterback position, but it’s safe to say that a win here would be making a huge statement for Mike Gundy’s squad, on multiple levels.
A Changing of the Guard
As I stated in my opening paragraph, Oklahoma State has gone on the road and beaten the Longhorns on their home field each of the last two years. Those wins came after a 41-14 drubbing at the hands of Colt McCoy in 2009, which happened at Boone Pickens Stadium.
If the Cowboys were able to come out and grab a win in front of the home crowd, it would signify a new era of Big 12 football.
In saying this, I don’t mean that Oklahoma State will automatically become the best team in the conference, but it does show that middle-tier teams have caught up to, and in some cases surpassed, the league’s premier teams.
For the past decade or so, it’s almost always been either Texas or the Oklahoma Sooners sitting at the top of the heap after the last conference game has been played. However, the Sooners lost to the Kansas State Wildcats last week, and while Texas has looked strong early, a third straight loss to Oklahoma State would show that the “little brothers” have more than caught up.
Now, it’s entirely possible that this could be a short stay at the top for teams like Oklahoma State because of the fact that the Texas’ and the OU’s will generally always pull in more blue-chip prospects due to their status as a few of the nation’s “elite” programs. However, that doesn’t make Oklahoma State’s recent achievements any less significant.
Oklahoma State has to seize this opportunity while it’s still there. These next few seasons will make or break its chances at becoming one of the new national powerhouses. It has a great shot at doing so, though, mostly because it has one of the best coaches in the conference who can further prove himself with a big win this Saturday.
Mike Gundy will become the BEST coach in the Big 12
Am I a bit of a homer for saying this? Maybe, but let’s look at the facts.
If Gundy can lead his squad to victory against a favored Texas squad, that will mean he did so with a freshman quarterback against a perennial national powerhouse. He will also have done so only a few weeks after suffering a disappointing loss to the Arizona Wildcats on the road.
Gundy could easily hide behind the fact that he was starting a true freshman in his first hostile situation against a better-than-expected Wildcat team, but he hasn’t done that.
He’s simply gotten his young men to regroup and back to their running-and-gunning ways.
It was impressive a few weeks ago when the team didn’t even miss a beat after its starting quarterback went down with injury early. That said, it would be even more impressive if it can pull off another victory against the Longhorns.
Red-shirt freshman J.W. Walsh simply stepped into Wes Lunt’s place and dominated the oppositions. True, it was against weaker opposition and Texas will undoubtedly provide a huge test for Gundy’s offense, but you had to like what you saw in the Cowboys last game.
Not only will Gundy look like a genius if he can pull off such a quick turnaround after losing to Arizona, but this will make the Big 12 race even more wide open than before.
A wide-open Big 12 gives Oklahoma State a chance for another conference title
Personally, even if OSU wins this game, I don’t give it a very good shot at winning the Big 12 again; there are simply far too many other good teams out there. Kansas State got a huge win last week against OU, and even with a loss, you can never count out either OU or Texas.
Then, you add in the new Big 12 teams, TCU and West Virginia, and there are just too many good teams out there to give the Cowboys much of a shot after their loss to Arizona.
That said, those games aren’t played on paper. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. The Cowboys have the talent to beat anyone in the league, but it remains to be seen if they can put it together on a consistent basis.
Their best chance to come out of the conference undefeated is to get their turnover-happy defense back on track. They lead the nation in turnovers last year, but have struggled to do the same this season.
The offense is always going to be potent, but if the defense can start to make some game-changing plays, this team could become a contender again.
Speaking of being contenders, the Big 12 looks pretty strong this year, with seven of 10 teams going into the weekend undefeated. True, it would take some key losses at the top for the Cowboys to get into a national title game even if they go undefeated, but it’s still very possible.
Obviously, that’s getting more than a little ahead of ourselves. Oklahoma State has to beat Texas before we can start thinking about a changing of the guard and a possible title shot, but if it can do it, you can bet that this college football season will get even more interesting.