2011 Oklahoma State Cowboys Football Predictions and BCS Futures Odds
by Darin Zank - 7/12/2011
The Oklahoma State Cowboys were probably the most pleasant surprise in the Big 12 last year. This year we'll get to see if they can play with the heightened expectations that come with being among the favorites to win the conference.
With just eight returning starters last year and the offense going to a new spread attack, OSU was picked by most “experts” to finish right near the bottom in the South Division. The Cowboys then started off the season with nonconference wins over Washington State, Troy and Tulsa, and they started 2-0 in Big 12 play. Then, after a loss at home to Nebraska, the Pokes won four in a row, including their first win at Texas since World War II. But with a spot in the conference championship game on the line, Oklahoma State got outgained by 200 yards and lost to hated Oklahoma in the Bedlam game. The Cowboys then pounded Arizona in a bowl to finish 11-2.
Oklahoma State also went a profitable 9-3 ATS last year, and 5-0 ATS on the road. And they went 10-3 on the ‘over/unders,’ as Cowboys games averaged a very healthy 71 points per.
But as good a season as OSU had last year, they again could not break through into the big-time with a conference title or BCS bowl bid. Over the course of the last three seasons only one Big 12 team has a better conference record than the Cowboys' 17-7, but what has it gotten them? Trips to the Holiday, Cotton and Alamo bowls. So that hurdle remains as OSU enters this season as a potential preseason Top 10 team.
Mike Gundy is a former Cowboys QB who was named Big 12 Coach of the Year last season. OSU went 4-7 in Gundy's first season a the helm, but has gone 43-22 straight up and 36-22 ATS with five straight bowl appearances since. However, he's yet to beat Oklahoma, and he hasn't been able to field a defense good enough to match up with his offense.
Oklahoma State returns nine starters this year on an offensive unit that averaged 520 YPG and 44 PPG last year. The Cowboys ranked fourth in conference play in rushing at 180 YPG, and allowed only four sacks in eight Big 12 games. They lose 1,500-yard rusher Kendall Hunter, but get back QB Brandon Weeden, who led the Big 12 in passing efficiency last year while compiling a 34/13 TD/INT ratio, WR Justin Blackmon, who caught 111 balls last year, 20 for scores, and the entire offensive line. And they add Scout.com's No. 5 RB Hershel Sims, a threat to go for long yardage at any time. So this unit should continue to put up gaudy numbers.
On the other side of the ball OSU returns five starters on a defensive unit that ranked eighth in conference play in yardage allowed last year at 433 YPG. And while they also gave up only 283 YPG through the air, some of that had to do with opponents constantly trying to keep up with the Cowboys' offense. And OSU forced a league-high 19 turnovers in Big 12 play. They only get back two of the starting front seven, but return three-quarters of the defensive backfield. Still, it looks like OSU will be playing a lot of high-scoring games again this season.
2011 Oklahoma State Cowboys Football Schedule
The Cowboys start off with nonconference home games with Louisiana, who they put up 54 against last year, and last year's bowl opponent Arizona on a Thursday night. They then visit Tulsa before heading to Texas A&M for the conference opener. Things get really tough a few weeks later when OSU plays back-to-back at Texas and at Missouri. They then get a couple of very winnable home games, then they hit the road for winnable games at Texas Tech and at Iowa State. Then comes the big one when the Pokes host the Bedlam game vs. a Sooners team that might well be No. 1 at that time. So the key to this season will be to pull at least a couple of conference road upsets, and of course beat Oklahoma.
2011 Oklahoma State BCS Futures Odds
Bodog is listing Okie State at 30/1 to win the BCS championship, and that might just be worth a small wager.
2011 Oklahoma State Cowboys Football Predictions
The Cowboys are going to score a lot of points again, and they'll probably beat all teams they're supposed to. But ultimately OSU's season will come down to how they do against Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M and Missouri. Win three of those, and they could win the Big 12, which no longer plays a conference championship game. Unfortunately, the Oklahoma State defense is likely to hamper that effort. We'll predict a 10-win regular season, maybe 11, and another bowl, but not a BCS bid.
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