Big 12

2010 NCAA Football Preview: Oklahoma State Cowboys

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2009 Record: 9-4 (6-2 in Big 12)
2009 Bowl: Cotton Bowl (lost to Ole Miss 21-7)
Final 2009 AP Ranking: received 40 pts putting them at #30
Head Coach: Mike Gundy (36-27 at Oklahoma State, 19-21 in Big 12 Conference games)
Non-Conference Schedule: Washington State (9/4), Troy (9/11), Tulsa (9/18), at Louisiana (10/8)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 28.4 points per game (7th in Big 12)
Rushing Yards/Game: 187 (1st in Big 12, 22nd in Nation)
Passing Yards/Game: 179 (10th in Big 12, 99th in Nation)
Total Yards/Game: 367 (7th in Big 12) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 21.7 points per game (4th in Big 12)
Rushing Yards/Game: 95 (4th in Big 12)
Passing Yards/Game: 236 (8th in Big 12)
Total Yards/Game: 332 (4th in Big 12)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: 0.00 per game (7th in Big 12)
Penalties: 63 yards per game (6th in Big 12)

Returning Starters
Offense: 4
Defense: 4
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Brandon Weeden, Jr (15 of 24 for 248 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT)
Rushing: RB Kendall Hunter, Sr (89 carries for 382 yds, 1 TD, 4.2 ypc, 47 ypg)
Receiving: WR Hubert Aniyam, Jr (42 rec, 515 yds, 3.2 rec/game)
Tackles: SS Markelle Martin, Jr (46)
Sacks: DE Ugo Chinasa, Sr (6.5)
Interceptions: CB Andrew McGee, Sr (1)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #46
Pre-Snap Read: #69
Sporting News:  #64

2010 Pre-Season Big 12 North Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #5
Phil Steele: #6

Bowl Prediction:
Athlon Sports: Texas Bowl (vs. Northwestern)

Last year Oklahoma State opened up their season with a Dez Bryant led win over Georgia. The celebration was short lived as they dropped their next game to Houston and then shortly after that Dez Bryant was ruled ineligible. Despite losing their best player the Cowboys still managed to beat every other Big 12 opponent they played outside of Oklahoma and Texas. Oklahoma State accepted a bid to the Cotton Bowl but lost to Ole Miss in a disappointing outing 21-7. 2009 was supposed to be a coming out party for Oklahoma State but they finished just outside the Top 25 at 9-4 and now are wondering whether they can re-load or will have to re-build. Oklahoma State has the fewest returning starters in the Big 12 and lost 6 of their top 7 tacklers off of their defense. Like we did with our Auburn and Notre Dame previews we sought out a fans perspective on the Cowboys. We turned to a frequent Scout.com message board contributor at the Oklahoma State site GoPokes.com (Scott refers to himself as the "sunshine pumper" of GoPokes.com) to learn more about the 2010 Cowboys. Here is an intro from Scott, a run-down of the first part of the schedule and then some Q&A:

Intro

From my perspective. We have a lot of talent on offense and I think the new style of offense will be humming right along once conference season comes along. Biggest questions on offense are the Oline (replacing all but 1 starter) and receiver. Oklahoma State's biggest issue last year was our receivers getting off blocks. They struggled with that and without Dez drawing the double coverage it showed. That said we have depth at receiver, it is just young. But that gives guys an opportunity to step up.

Defensively, Im really excited about this years team. Yes we lost our linebackers but having Orie Lemon returning from his knee injury should give us good leadership at the linebacker position for the young studs we have signed. I look for our Dline to be improved in Bill Youngs second year as DC. Biggest question mark on defense is secondary where we are thin on depth. That is the one place we cant afford an injury.

Special Teams should be special again. Joe Deforest is a great Special teams coach and this is probably the most talent Oklahoma State has had on campus. It is just unproven.

I think the schedule sets up nicely for Oklahoma State to build momentum. With the lack of belief in OSU from the preseason magazines, as an OSU fan Im hoping opponents take us lightly too.

Schedule Breakdown

Washington State should be improved. This is their 3rd year under their coach. We made great strides in Gundy's 3rd year. They are from the Pac 10 which is a good conference.

Troy is always a good team. They get a lot of talent and they beat us a few years ago.

Tulsa is a scary team. They weren't up to their standards last year because they were young but they are getting a lot of great pub and rightly so. Todd Graham is a very good coach and returns a lot of talent. Plus it's an instate game. Tulsa went into Norman a few years ago and scared a highly ranked Oklahoma team. They wont be scared coming into Stillwater.

Texas A&M is expected to be very good this year and some think could challenge OU and UT for the South. Im glad this game is in Stillwater and Im glad OSU has a week to prepare for it. A&M and OSU always play exciting games.

@ Louisiana This game scares me more than any game of the first five. OSU has seemed to lose one game each season the last few years they shouldnt. This is a Friday night game in Louisiana. KSU lost there last year and it's the first road game with this new team. Plus OSU could be coming off a huge win over a possibly ranked A&M team. This is a classic trap game.

Q&A

What team on the schedule do you want to beat the most?

I think it would have to be OU or Texas. And it is simply because those are the only two teams Gundy hasnt beaten as HC. I really feel OSU has put themselves in a position to be in 3rd behind those two for the future, especially with the new conference. I think we have passed A&M and I think Tech is going to miss Mike Leach more than they realize. The North lost it's strongest team (Nebraska) and I dont see any of those teams competing in the future.

@ Texas Tech would be a close third because OSU has not won in Lubbock since the inception of the Big 12.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Tough to say but I would guess it would be one of the young receivers who will flourish in the new offense. I cant give you one name because I think a lot of that will sort itself out during August. But look for a redshirt freshman to make a major statement at WR this year.

Who are the top newcomers that can make an impact this year?

Would have to be the linebackers. There is a strong possiblity that Shaun Lewis, Caleb Lavey, and Kris Catlin could all see significant time at LB this year. Also thind Devin Hedgepeth who came in January will have to play big at DB for OSU to be successful.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?
 
It's all about the start. If this inexperienced team can gain some confidence, which I think they will, I think OSU will win 9 games this year. I think OSU beats OU or UT this year. And I feel like OSU has a legit shot at beating Tech in Lubbock. 8 wins would be success in my opinion. All of this barring injury.

Taking Oklahoma State out of the equation, who do you see winning the Big 12 this year?

Would have to go with the winner of the Red River Rivalry. Until someone beats OU or UT and wins a south championship they should be the favorites. I know a lot of people are big on A&M being a sleeper but I just dont think Sherman is the answer. If they lose their QB they are in trouble. OSU saw what losing key players can do to a season last year. Only UT and OU can sustain injuries and still win the title and not even OU could do that last year.

Previous Big 12 Previews: 
Iowa State Cyclones
Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas State Wildcats
Missouri Tigers 
Oklahoma Sooners 
Texas Longhorns
Texas Tech Red Raiders

Next Up: Washington State Cougars

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