It’s getting down to crunch time in Al Dannity’s preseason countdown and today we return to the Big 12 to break down the prospects of the Cowboys of Oklahoma State.
The schedule The Cowboys’ home opener is against Louisiana Lafayette but the eyes of the nation won’t hit Stillwater until the Wildcats of Arizona visit on September 10. That may be the most high-profile of Oklahoma State’s non-conference tests but they face another big challenge at Tulsa a week later.
Big 12 play begins with a tough trip to College Station to take on Texas A&M. The Cowboys begin October with a home date against Kansas but then face road games at Texas and Missouri. Baylor and Kansas State won’t be easy outings but all eyes in November will be on the final game of the regular season; the Bedlam Bowl against Oklahoma.
The players The Cowboys return 10 starters on a loaded offense. Brandon Weeden looks poised for another big year at the helm with Justin Blackmon as his top target yet again. The offensive line remains a force to be feared and Levy Adcock should play a big role in protecting Weeden this season.
The defense returns just 6 starters but, crucially, these include safeties Markelle Martin and Johnny Thomas along with cornerback Brodrick Brown. The Cowboys’ schedule is loaded with opponents that rely on the passing game. Having this kind of experience in the secondary will be vital to Oklahoma State’s efforts to stay unbeaten in 2011. NCAA Football betting fans should also note that punter Quinn Sharp is a returning starter from 2010.
The forecast If the Cowboys run the table there is no question they will be in the BCS National Championship game. Their schedule features two quality opponents in non-conference play to complement their meaty Big 12 slate. I don’t like the Cowboys to pull it off however as there are just too many hurdles to overcome. The road game at Texas A&M will be particularly tough but even a loss there won’t scupper the season. Oklahoma State will have time to rebuild their resume should they hit any bumps in the road. Not for the first time, the season will most likely rest on that last game on the Cowboys’ schedule. Victory in the Bedlam Bowl would probably send the Cowboys to the BCS. Defeat to the Sooners could leave Oklahoma State asking “what if?” yet again.