Oklahoma State Cowboys
Head Coach: Mike Gundy
2013 Record: 10-3 overall, 7-2 Big 12
2013 Bowl Result: Lost to Missouri 41-31 in the Cotton Bowl
2014 Returning Starters: 4 offense, 4 defense
Odds to Win 2015 College Football Championship Game: 150/1
Odds to win 2014 Big 12 Championship: 10/1
Regular Season Wins: under 7.5 -125 / over 7.5 -105
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Last season, Oklahoma State was 1:46 away from their second Big 12 title and a BCS berth in three years. The Cowboys had scored against bedlam rival Oklahoma to take a 24-20 lead. However, the Sooners scored with 19 seconds left to take a 27-24 lead. Oklahoma would add a defensive touchdown on the last play of the game to make the final 33-24 and giving the Big 12 title to Baylor. Oklahoma State would have to settle for a Cotton Bowl berth against former conference foe Missouri. The Tigers would win a 41-31 shootout in that game.
This season could be a rebuilding year for the Cowboys with only four starters each returning on offense and defense. The threat of NCAA sanctions also looms over the program as they are under investigation.
Last season the offense averaged just under 450 yards per game and 39.1 points per game. Quarterbacks Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh split the snaps last season with Chelf taking the majority. Chelf graduated after throwing for 2,169 yards with 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 373 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. Walsh is now the starter after completing 59.5% of his passes for 1,333 yards with 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 294 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Arizona transfer Daxx Garman and true freshman Mason Rudolph could challenge if Walsh is inconsistent as he was last season.
Running back Desmond Roland emerged as one of the best running backs in the Big 12 last season. He rushed for 811 yards on 176 carries with 13 touchdowns, and also had 9 catches for 83 yards and 3 touchdowns. Though Roland does return the Cowboys must replace running back Jeremy Smith who had 122 carries, 485 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 11 catches. Look for Rennie Childs to get most of the carries Smith had last season.
Although Oklahoma State must replace three of their top four wide receivers in Tracy Moore, Josh Stewart and Charlie Moore, the receiving corps is loaded with young talent. Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd and Marcell Ateman are very capable replacements. Seales had 39 catches, 571 yards and 3 touchdowns. JUCO transfer Tyreek Hill is a sprinter in track who runs the 100 and 200 meters. He could be used as a combination running back/receiver.
The line needs starting tackles Devin Davis and Brandon Garrett to come back healthy in 2014 after missing games in 2013. Veteran Daniel Koenig should anchor the unit.
Last season, Oklahoma State gave up 422 yards per game on offense but only 22 points per game. this was mainly due to forcing so many turnovers. The Cowboys were +15 in turnovers having forced 33 last season. However, only 4 starters return from that unit.
Tackle James Castleman and end Jimmy Bean return to a line that will be the strength of the defense. Despite losing some talent the line is still deep and talented.
Linebacker Ryan Simmons had 67 tackles last year as a sophomore and will provide veteran leadership in 2014. Kris Catlin, Seth Jacobs and Devante Averette will also be in the rotation.
Junior cornerbacks Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin return, but inexperience at safety could be a problem. Cornerback Justin Gilbert was the #4 pick in the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Kicker Ben Grogan and punter Kip Smith both struggled last year. Both return, but must be more consistent or the Cowboys could have a problem. Hill should be a dangerous return man with his world class speed.
Oklahoma State opens with a game in Arlington, Texas against defending national champion Florida State. They should be favored in their next seven games, but then the Cowboys close with a brutal stretch. OSU closes with road games against Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma, sandwiched around a home game against Texas. It is very possible they could lose at least three if not all of those games against the best teams in the conference. I think the Cowboys finish 8-4 and make a mid-tier bowl game.
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