1976...Terry Miller, Philip Dokes, John Corker, Gary Irions
1984...Rusty Hilger, Thurman Thomas, Barry Hanna (don't forget J.R. Dillard), Leslie O'Neal
1987...Mike Gundy, Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders, Hart Lee Dykes (don't forget J.R. Dillard)
1988...Mike Gundy, Barry Sanders, Hart Lee Dykes
2009...Zac Robinson, Brandon Weeden, Keith Toston, Kendall Hunter (limited due to injury), Dez Bryant (lost to suspension after 2 games), Justin Blackmon, Josh Cooper, Russell Okung, Ugo Chinasa, Perrish Cox, Luciene Antoine, Markelle Martin, DAN BAILEY, QUINN SHARP
2010...Brandon Weeden, Kendall Hunter, Joseph Randle, Justin Blackmon, Josh Cooper, Ugo Chinasa, Orie Lemon, Markelle Martin, Broderick Brown, Shaun Lewis, Jamie Blatnick, Richetti Jones, DAN BAILEY, QUINN SHARP
2011...Brandon Weeden, Joseph Randle, Justin Blackmon, Josh Cooper, Jamie Blatnick, Richetti Jones, Alex Elkins, Shaun Lewis, Markelle Martin, Broderick Brown, Justin Gilbert, QUINN SHARP
These are all the 9+ win seasons since 1970. Eight in 43 years. That's one 9+ win season every 5-6 years.
Yes, OSU had 4 in a row from 2008-2011, but I will contend that the last two years of that were aberrations fueled by the perfect combination of just three people...Dana Holgorsen, Brandon Weeden, and Justin Blackmon...and one freak season of turnovers. Weeden and the turnovers were complete accidents of circumstance, and Blackmon was a surprise of the nth degree. Holgorsen was the only kind of known quantity in all this. Even with Weeden and Blackmon, think about what 2011 would have been without that avalanche of turnovers. See Iowa State.
If you look at the greatest seasons in program history, they are obviously accompanied by some of the greatest players in program history at their positions. From 2008-2011 OSU had the top two QB's in OSU history; the top two wide receivers; one of the top two tight ends; one of the top offensive linemen; top two kickers/punters. I'm sure some arguments could be made for others, but these are the ones that stick out to me.
And there are a lot more of them on offense than defense.
Gundy has done a tremendous job, along with Boone's money, of building a consistent "winning" program, but now that I reflect a bit, winning will likely mean 9-4 or 8-5, maybe a 10-3 or even 11-2. Keep in mind that, while 11-2 in 2010 felt so great, it was no different than 10-2 in 1988 or 1984. We still couldn't beat OU and Nebraska. That's going to be the ceiling unless we come across another Weeden/Blackmon combo and/or turnover bonanza. Say what you want about 2009 when Dez was suspended, but keep in mind that OSU lost to Dana and Houston with him on the field. Gundy sticking with an injured Robinson made more of a difference than losing Bryant.
Now think about what the outlook for this season would be if the Big 12 was not so awful.
Yes, it is only one loss, but what we witnessed on Saturday in Morgantown throws into doubt all preconceived notions about the season. After watching OU dispatch ND (and no, the Irish are not very good), I have no qualms reevaluating my predictions for the Big 12. Baylor and OU have to be the favorites. OSU is now in the scrum that is the rest of the league. Walsh will have to show that he can stretch the field and Yurcich will have to show the willingness to take chances with his arm. The offensive line needs to regroup. I'm not so ready to beat up the defense, but for heaven's sake find a pass rush and WTF was it with all the long completions, not to mention a number of blown coverages on swing passes out of the backfield. Only recall seeing the Psycho formation once or twice. The front seven lost contain on the QB a number of times. OSU only lost the TO battle by one, but WV put up 10 pts from their steals. The Cowboys managed nothing. They gave up almost 100 yards in penalties. Outgained the Mountaineers by about 50 yards, but struggled to maintain drives.
As for Yurcich and his play calling...it was bad. Not a single deep throw, except when Walsh was scrambling. J.W. has plenty of arm strength but his technique is awful and, much like golf, that is where he loses his power. Going to the same running plays on 3rd down, especially in 3+ yard situations, was idiotic. The goal line play calling was laughable. West Virginia's defense is pretty decent, but the running game did not force them to cover the both sides of the field. Plays to the edges generally took too long to develop. Why not keep running plays like the TD's to Moore and Horton? Ok, fine, run the fade, but use Ateman.
For those who clammer for Chelf, well, he would've gotten the crap beat out of him. Unless the offensive line is going to protect him like they did Weeden, he'll be no better of an option than Walsh. And you can forget about Daxx. He's not seeing the light of day unless injuries happen.
It has been said many times that championship caliber teams find ways to win these types of games where nothing is going right, because it is going to happen. Squinky is going to test you the most against bad teams. Kansas State is coming to town, and I would consider them to be not quite as stiff on defense, and maybe slightly better on offense than West Virginia. Snyder is always a worthy opponent.
That being said, the Cowboys still control their own destiny. Win out, and the Big 12 and a BCS bowl game is yours.
Honestly, how many of you think that will happen?