Oklahoma State and Missouri in Same Big 12 Galaxy with Stars' Status in the Air

Peter FleischerSenior Writer IOctober 13, 2009

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 5:  Wide receiver Dez Bryant #1 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys celebrates his touchdown with teammate Dexter Pratt #22 during the second quarter of the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Boone Pickens Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It's not often that a potential all-conference player misses a big game. It's an even rarer occasion that two players miss a game.

But that was the case last week for the Oklahoma State Cowboys against Texas A&M, and it might be the case again against Mizzou on Saturday. While star running back Kendall Hunter (1,555 yds, 16 TDs rushing last year) might or might not come back after missing three games, Dez Bryant almost certainly won't play.

Bryant, as everybody knows, was suspended last week after lying to the NCAA regarding the contact he had with Deion Sanders. Although head coach Mike Gundy and OSU are backing Bryant in the appeals process 100 percent, it's almost impossible to expect Bryant to return for the showdown with Missouri, or at all.

Hunter's situation is different. He claimed a couple of days ago that he expects to be back against the Tigers. Gundy said differently. Given that the team had recently been rumored to have been pursuing a redshirt season for Hunter, I'd say he's probably out.

So how will this impact Saturday's game? Like it would against anybody. Two talented skill players miss a game and that school is at a disadvantage.

Normally, I'd predict Oklahoma State in blowout fashion, simply because few people, if any, can score with them when they're completely healthy. But Keith Toston, while talented, isn't Kendall Hunter. And you have to wonder how Zac Robinson will perform without his leading receiver. Josh Cooper, his second leading target, has barely 150 yards on the season.

Oklahoma State will be playing the first home game in their conference season, but will that be enough to push them over the top? And on the other hand, Blaine Gabbert might not be healthy, either. If that's the case, Mizzou might struggle for the second week in a row to light up the scoreboard.

This is a situation all Tiger fans should keep an eye on as it progresses through the week. If Robinson is playing without the rest of his Three Muskateers, Missouri has a much better chance to steal a game on the road and return to .500 in conference play.