I told our managing editor, Gerald, that I would take this piece for the entire season. Last year, Chris Ross, did this piece and if you want Chris to do it this year then that's TOO DAMN BAD. Chris is busy doing more productive things like running his new website the Land Grant Gauntlet, which is a site that you should go check out when you get a chance.
In all seriousness, you're stuck with me this year and you better buckle up because I may or may not have the Cowboys going 14-0 and winning it all. Can you imagine the CRFF headline, "Why OkState Will Beat Ohio State in the Nat'l Title?" You all would absolutely lose your minds.
But the Pokes impending showdown with the Buckeyes in the National Championship is about four months away and probably won't actually happen so let's just focus on Oklahoma State's contest against Central Michigan on Thursday night.
There are at least 15 reasons that the Cowboys will beat the Chippewas but because I know you won't read 15 reasons I will just highlight three of them.
- OKLAHOMA STATE NEARLY ALWAYS SHOWS UP IN BIG GAMES
I enrolled at Oklahoma State in 2012 and ever since I've been in Stillwater I've noticed that OkState almost always shows up in big games, especially recently.
Go back to 2013 when the Pokes knocked off No. 15 Texas Tech in Lubbock. A few weeks later they beat No. 23 Texas before wrapping up with the demolition of No. 3 Baylor. Last season the Pokes biggest game was against OU - with everything on the line. The Pokes, with a bit of luck, showed up and knocked off the Sooners.
I understand that for the Pokes this may not seem like a huge game but that doesn't matter. The game is in Michigan and this is the biggest game the Chippewas will host. I promise you that Kelly-Shorts stadium will be rocking and that team is going to be pumped up, or "lit", as some of my peers say.
This is a big game because of the environment it will be played in. Combine that with the fact that the excitement of a new football season will surround the game and the Chippewas will have created the perfect storm for an upset. Cowboy fans know, more than anyone, that crazy things happen in games not played on Saturday. But that won't be the case on Thursday - because the Pokes show up in big games.
You can expect that Mike Gundy and his staff will have their team ready to go mentally and physically. You can expect the Cowboys to come out in the first quarter and take the crowd out of the game. Oklahoma State will win this game because they will match the intensity of the Chippewas and that all starts with the man wearing the tucked-in hoodie.
2. CMU WILL STRUGGLE DEFENSIVELY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD
If you watched Mason Rudolph against Baylor, OU and Washington then you know that he can sling the ball all over the field. What you may not have noticed is that Rudolph does most of his damage attacking the linebackers of the opponent by throwing across the middle.
Central Michigan will be good on defense again this year as they have a good core of returning starters coming back. But where the Chippewas have some turnover is at the linebacker position where they lost two starters to graduation. Mason Rudolph will be able to have a field day as he did against Washington in the bowl game. Look for the young QB to find guys like Blake Jarwin and James Washington across the middle all game long.
You'll find that Rudolph will have success partially due to the fact that OSU should be able to run the ball this year with Chris Carson taking most of the carries. If the Pokes can run the ball successfully then that'll open up the field for Mason Rudolph to really blow this game out of the water.
3. OKSTATE'S DEFENSE IS ABSOLUTELY RAW
Central Michigan is a great first test for the Cowboys, especially this year where the Pokes will have a few unanswered questions early on. The Chippewas are not a terrible football team. If you think they are then you don't watch enough football. At the same time, CMU isn't really talented enough to compete with Oklahoma State.
I talked to someone within the program a few days ago and they told me talked to me about the Cowboy defense. They told me that, "Our defense looks really, really good. Ogbah is going to be a force in the NFL one day and he is the anchor of the defense. The offense has struggled against the defense, especially passing the ball - but that's ok because I don't know if there is a better defense in the conference." If what that person said is true then expect Thursday to be a blow out.
We've all known that OkState's front seven are going to be tough to get by and that the questions have come on the secondary of the Pokes. Central Michigan is led by three-year starter, Cooper Rush, who set an FBS bowl-record for touchdown passes in a game last season when he threw seven touchdowns in the Bahamas Bowl.
I think that Rush is a good quarterback and he might even get a chance to play in the NFL. Rush's problem this year is that CMU is searching for playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. The Chippewas lost star receiver Titus Davis to graduation and now Rush is left with a melting pot of average receivers to throw the ball to.
If Mason Rudolph is struggling against the Cowboy secondary with talented receivers all around him then I don't even want to imagine what Rush is going to face on Thursday night.
Do not be surprised if the Cowboys pitch a shutout on Thursday night against Central Michigan because it could happen.
These are the three reasons that Oklahoma State will beat Central Michigan on Thursday evening. The Pokes simply are too athletic and talented for CMU to keep up with them for four quarters.