The Oklahoma State Cowboys will travel to Lawrence, Kansas to face the Kansas Jayhawks this weekend in their second Big 12 conference game of the season. It should be a big win, and it will definitely be a game that has multiple Cowboys you need to watch specifically.
At this point in the season, we can now pinpoint exactly what players are the stars on this Oklahoma State team. Certain older players have been disappointing, while there are multiple younger guys who are proving that they are ready to take over the team and lead it into a new era of Cowboy football.
These are players that are upgrades both in talent and attitude over the last few seasons. They are also specifically important for the Cowboys to get a win in Lawrence.
Joseph Randle is not one of those older players that have been disappointing. The junior out of Wichita, Kansas will return to his home state after accumulating 534 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, establishing himself as one of the best, if not the best, running backs in the Big 12 conference.
Kansas gave up a massive number of rushing yards to the Kansas State Wildcats last week and proved that they have a difficult time stopping a strong rushing attack. That does not bode well for them against Randle, who torched the talented Texas defense in his last game. If Randle goes off early and often, the Cowboys will cruise to a win.
Shaun Lewis has been a bright spot on the defensive side of the ball for the Oklahoma State Cowboys in recent years. However, he has been inconsistent so far this season. Hopefully, his game against Texas is indicative of what we will see from him going forward. The junior linebacker accounted for 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks as he flew around the field disrupting the Longhorn offense.
Defense will be important against Kansas. While the Jayhawks are not great on offense, they are coached by a very good play-caller in head coach Charlie Weis. Kansas will put up some points if they are not stopped, and Lewis will be integral in stopping them.
A junior-college transfer this season, Calvin Barnett really does not jump out at you when you look at his stats for the season so far. He has accounted for 11 tackles in four games, with no sacks and no forced fumbles. However, when you watch the Cowboys play, you realize just what a difference Barnett makes.
He, along with James Castleman, is making the Oklahoma State defensive line better than it has been in nearly a decade. He is disruptive up front and has proven he can be an effective run-stuffer. Kansas likes to run the ball, so the Cowboys will need Barnett to come up big.
This game seems like an easy one for the Cowboys, and it may be. After all, Mike Gundy has never lost as a coach or player in Lawrence, and the talent advantage is clearly on the side of Oklahoma State. On paper, this one might as well already be marked with a W.
However, games are not played on paper. These three players will have to step up if the Cowboys don't merely want to win, but want to also get better in the process. Games like these are for just that: getting a win and improving in the process. Oklahoma State should be focused on that, and these three players’ performances will be instrumental in doing that.