Oklahoma State fans probably agree that any double digit win season in football is considered a great season. The Cowboys won double digit games in 2010, 2011, 2013, and now in 2015. But this 10 win season has a way different feel to it than in 2013 when the Pokes finished 10-3. So why do two 10-3 seasons feel so different? Well, for starters, the 2013 Cowboys were dominant. After an early season slip up at West Virginia with J.W. Walsh at the helm, Clint Chelf stepped in and led the Cowboys on a roar. Oklahoma State would go on to win their next seven, including a 49-17 win over then number three Baylor. You got the sense that those Cowboys could hang with anyone in the nation, and you expected victory in every game. Fast forward two years and it seemed like the Cowboys were lucky to get a win against anyone. Maybe lucky isn’t the right word. You don’t win at Texas, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Iowa State by luck. Even though the Cardiac Cowboys were hardly impressive, they got results.
In my "semi-professional" opinion, the 2013 Cowboys would mop the floor with their 2015 counterparts. The 2013 team just had more talent. Plain and simple. Led by Chelf, the OSU offense featured a two headed monster of Desmond Roland and Jeremy Smith. There’s your difference right there. Roland rushed for over 800 yards, while Smith rushed for just under 500 respectively. This year, Chris Carson rushed for 517 yards and led the team. It was clear that you couldn’t place all the blame on the running backs. The offensive line was equally terrible in the run and passing game; it’s no wonder the Cowboys had negative rushing yards at the end of the first half in the Sugar Bowl. The 2013 Pokes could run the ball, while the 2015 Cowboys were as one dimensional as it gets.
Defensively, the Cowboys just had a better unit. Led by NFL draft picks Justin Gilbert and Tyler Patmon, Oklahoma State held dynamic offensives such as Baylor and TCU to 17 and 10 points, respectively. When the Cowboys lost Jimmy Bean and Ryan Simmons, the defense never recovered. With those two healthy, the Cowboys would have competed a lot better with Oklahoma and may have even snuck out a win against Baylor. Two years ago, the Pokes were fortunate to keep players like Caleb Lavey, Dawytawion Lowe and Shawn Lewis all healthy and on the field. Throw in that NFL secondary and a healthy Simmons and the Pokes had a solid claim to call themselves the best defense in the Big 12. Earlier this season, the Cowboys once again had the potential to be the best defense in the Big 12. But losing two senior leaders isn’t an easy thing to do, and the Cowboys looked lost for the second half of the season on defense. Without Emmanuel Ogbah, Kevin Peterson, Seth Jacobs, Simmons, and Bean next year, we may be in for an even worse defensive year next season.
If you want to know why 2013 felt so much different than 2015 it’s simple. The 2013 Cowboys were competitive in every game, while this year's Cowboys fell apart at the worse time possible. Fix the offensive line, fix the run game, and fill the holes on defense and maybe we’ll see Oklahoma State take the next step and start to consistently compete with the big boys. Easier said than done.