Welcome to another edition of the CRFF roundtable. It’s a bye week for the Pokes, so we looked ahead to the second half of the season. As always, leave your answers in the comments below!
1. We are basically to the halfway point of the season. How has the first half of the season changed your perception of the team/program to this point?
Josh Poteet: I feel worse than I did six weeks ago. That being said, this team hasn't reached its peak yet and that's both good and bad.
Robert Whetsell: 6-0 baby!
Christopher Snodgress: The first half of the season has reminded me of the breaks OSU got during the 2015 season. Those things tend to even out over time. Last season, things like CMU and fumbles at the goal line didn't happen. That doesn't mean this team is worse, just less fortunate so far this year.
Joel Penfield: The team is not as good as I thought they would be, but they also aren't worse than I thought they would be. Take out about 3 or 4 plays away from this season and they are 6-0. Even though last week was near disaster, this team is on the upturn. I think the bye week is really helpful for the team to continue their momentum into the second half of the season.
Austin Higgs: It's funny. We're half way through the season, and I still have no idea if this team is good or not. Sometimes we look great (SELU, Iowa State 4th, Texas 2nd half), sometimes we look average (Pitt, Baylor), and sometimes we look pretty bad (CMU). I'm still not certain what this team is, or what they can accomplish. But hey, I'm a simple man. A win over OU, and I'm happy.
Gallagher Martin: I've had to readjust my expectations for this team, but in all honestly the playoffs were probably an unreachable goal anyway. Win the Big 12 and this season is a major success.
Phillip Slavin: The team is finally starting to play more like we expected (minus the secondary). I'm no longer sure we're one of the 3 best teams in the conference. Not saying we aren't, just less confident in that statement.
Dustin Ragusa: I was overly optimistic (as I always am) going into the season, so I'm slightly disappointed at the halfway point. Honestly, I hate looking back on this season because all I can think about is the Central Michigan loss and how both games I attended in person had 1+ hour weather delays. Not good thoughts, this question sucks, I'm done.
2. It's a bye week this week, and you can't lose to a bye. Does the timeliness bye week help the team going forward?
Josh: It certainly doesn't hurt but it also doesn't help as much as it could. Would love for the bye to come after WV and essentially split conference play.
Robert: To heck with the team, I can't take two weeks in a row of that stress. The rest of the season is going to be a real problem for me.
Christopher: The bye week could not come at a better time. This team is beaten up and needs some time to get right and rest up. What we saw against Iowa State made it pretty clear the Pokes could use a week off. I even like that it's followed by KU, because teams sometimes aren't as crisp after a bye week, so I think the combination of the next two weeks will pay dividends going forward, yes.
Joel: I don't think the bye week could have come at a better time. There are injuries in certain spots, but also guys coming back from injury as well. They can now make adjustments to propel them the rest of the year, and I think we will see a better OSU team started next week in Lawrence.
Austin: I think this team needed a mental break. The Cardiac Cowboys can wear you down.
Gallagher: It would make sense to have the bye week after the Kansas game game, before West Virginia but I'm not sure if that will make a whole lot of difference. But I can't complain that the bye week came smack down right in the middle of the schedule. I guess that makes the most sense.
Phillip: It's the halfway point which means players are hurt and tired. This is the perfect time for a break.
Dustin: I think the bye week is coming at a great time. We've got several key players banged up and a couple of guys (Ateman and Carson) who are looking to get back from injuries that have kept them out for significant amounts of time.
3. To this point, who do you think wins the Big 12? What team has been the biggest surprise, and conversely, who has been the biggest letdown?
Josh: I still think OSU wins the conference. Iowa State despite their bad record has been surprisingly good this year and will be good going forward. The rest of the conference is a disappointment.
A) Whoever catches Big 12 Refs on a good day, most often.
b) Absolutely zero surprises in my book.
c) Baylor Athletics. Didn't think it was possible to be that tone deaf.
Christopher: I still think OU probably pulls it out. That win in Ft. Worth was huge. They'll run for 800 yards against Baylor and will absolutely torch OSU's secondary. West Virginia and K-State have a lot of tough games ahead and I think both will drop a couple of games between now and December. The biggest surprise has been K-State, as usual. WVU is better than we thought, but we thought they'd be good. K-State was picked 8th by some. We always underestimate the Snydercats. The biggest letdown has been OU. The national perception of the Big 12, which was less than great coming in, took a pretty big hit with the Sooners' non-conference performances. Combine that with close calls against TCU and Texas, and OU has been underwhelming so far. I still think they have the horses to end up on top though.
Joel: I might be a little biased (actually a lot), but I do believe OSU can win the conference still. Baylor and WVU still have their toughest games ahead of them, and even though OU has their tough games at home, they have just as many glaring weaknesses as OSU. I also wouldn't count out K-State, if they can put up a fight in Norman and get a victory, watch out.
Austin: OU will likely still win this s*** show of a conference. I guess West Virginia has suprised me a bit. Biggest disappointments have been OU and TCU. OU for obvious reasons, and TCU had WAYYY too much hype coming into the season. After all they lost, I was suprised how much people believed in them. THEY BARELY BEAT KANSAS.
Gallagher: I think Baylor wins or at least shares the Big 12. If Oklahoma beats Baylor though, Bedlam might be for a Big 12 championship again. West Virginia has been the biggest surprise so far, and the two Oklahoma schools have been the biggest let downs.
Phillip: I think it's the winner of the Baylor / OU game at this point. The entire league has been a let down, but if I only get one team to choose I'll go with TCU, who is barely 3-2 at this point.
Dustin: I had OU winning the conference before the season started and with the way the season has been going, no one else has really stood out to make me change my mind. That being said, I have little to no confidence in my OU pick either.
4. What are you hoping to see out of the team through the next 8 weeks? How does the season play out?
Josh: I want them to reach their peak - if they do then they're easily the best in the conference. A sugar bowl bid would be excellent.
Robert: Don't lay any more eggs, and see #3a...based on the season up to this moment, that doesn't give me any hope.
Christopher: Consistency. I'd settle for less of the spectacular if we could see less of the catastrophic. I'd love to see this team settle into a groove of consistent high-level play. As far as the rest of the season goes, I foresee a lot of frustration regarding the secondary as the Cowboys face the almost weekly barrage of dynamic passing attacks in the Big 12. Five of the six games remaining are games the Pokes could lose without completely shocking me, but all six games remaining are very winnable as well. The most likely scenario is somewhere in the middle, which means an 8-4 or 7-5 finish.
Joel: I truly believe OSU has the opportunity to win out, 10-2 is not out of the question. If the offensive line can find a way to get a push without Larry Williams, then the run game will get going, which takes the burden off of Mason. The offense's success hinges on the O-Line. On the defensive side, the secondary has to step up. They cannot have blown coverages against teams like Texas Tech and OU. The front 7 has played beyond my expectation so far, the back 4 now have to kick it into gear. I'm forever the optimist but we'll see.
Austin: *shrugs shoulders*
*** editor’s note: nice effort Austin... ***
Gallagher: I'd like to see Marcell Ateman back. I think the Oklahoma State offense misses him more than they thought they would with all the depth at receiver. I'd also like to see Barry J. explode in one of these games.
Phillip: I need to see better protection for Mason, and the secondary has got to get better. The better passing teams in the league come after the bye week. Without improvements it could be a long 8 weeks.
Dustin: I'd like to see this team come out ready to play when the first whistle blows. It's impressive that they can flip a switch in the second half and put teams away, but that's not the way you want to play, especially going against the "tougher" teams in the Big 12 down the stretch. I think that we lose two more and finish the season 8-4. I see one of those losses being OU and then I think we drop one out of K State, WVU or TCU.
5. Uniform predictions for the bye week?
Josh: Pink alternates.
Robert: I'll take this question off so everyone else has a chance.
Joel: Gray hoodie and black sweatpants.
Austin: I knew we were saving the pink alts for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Gallagher: I don't know how to answer this question. Street clothes?
Phillip: Somewhere between Russell Westbrook and Von Miller.
Dustin: Whatever they want, just nothing with a huge Pistol Pete head on it... if you can't tell, I wasn't a fan of the orange helmets last week.