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In Coach Mike Gundy’s 16 years in Stillwater, they have won 137 games and I didn’t look it up but I would bet $1000 that is better than any other Cowboy football coach in history. He has made OSU relevant and has led the Pokes to new heights. But, they haven’t been able to get to the top tier and more importantly, he seldom beats Oklahoma. Mainly because he struggles against the Sooners (doesn’t everyone else in the Big-12), there is always talk of firing him. But I’ve got news for Oklahoma State fans, take a look back to what it was like in Stillwater before he came along. It wasn’t pretty. And, as usual, the 2021 Cowboys have plenty of talent and they are going to win their share of football games.The question is always the same. Can they get to the top?
Offense: The Cowboys lost two NFL draft picks in RB Chuba Hubbard and WR Tylan Wallace but they are always strong at those positions. Hubbard was hurt a lot last year and that allowed Dezmon Jackson, LD Brown, and Dominic Richardson to get valuable playing time. The running back position is strong. The receiving corps is not so rosy. Not only did they lose Wallace, but steady Dylan Stoner and Landon Wolf are gone also and they caught 70% of the receptions last year. But, as previously mentioned, OSU always finds receivers and they have a bunch to choose from. But, even more important than replacing what they lost, will be the play of QB Spencer Sanders. He has been absolutely brilliant at times and then just as bad in the next moment. His main problem has been untimely turnovers in key moments. The offensive line returns two starters and needs to retool when August rolls around.
Defense: Over the years Oklahoma State has struggled on defense. But they seem to be building depth and in three years under Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles they have made great strides. This group could be their best. They are deep and talented upfront with standouts Trace Ford and Tyler Lacy and tackle Israel Antwine. Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez has been 2nd team All-Big 12 the last two seasons. The secondary returns 4 starters including All-Big 12 safety Kolby Harvell-Peel. Tre Sterling returns at safety and he had some big moments in 2020.
9/4 Missouri State
9/18 at Boise State
The schedule features a must win over Missouri State and a home game with rival Tulsa who should have beat the Cowboys last year. However, they didn’t and they shouldn’t this year either. The trip to Idaho to play Boise State will be interesting and if they can win that one, they should be 5-0 heading to Texas on October 16th.
9/25 Kansas State
10/16 at Texas
10/23 at Iowa State
11/6 at West Virginia
11/20 at Texas Tech
The conference schedule is balanced with s couple of home games with the contenders and a couple of road games against contenders. The home schedule includes must wins against Baylor and Kansas and tricky games with K-State and TCU. Then there is Bedlam in the season finale with the hated Sooners and this one usually has title game implications. Road games at West Virginia and Texas Tech are where good Oklahoma State teams have stumbled in the past and they have a tendency to do that. The other two games at Texas and at Iowa State will be difficult.
Summary: This looks like another quality year for OSU and they have been accustomed to those recently. A lot depends on Sanders and if he can cut down on the turnovers and become more consistent. The offense will be good and the defense is improving but at crunch time can Oklahoma State win the games they have to win. I’m thinking no.
Predicted Finish: 3rd Place in the Big-12
Overall Record: 8-4
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