The mood surrounding Oklahoma State football right now is especially dreary. For newer OSU fans, they simply aren't used to starting a season off by losing. Seasoned Oklahoma State fans have seen this movie before.
Going back for years, you can point to a litany of games OSU should have won but managed to lose in spectacular fashion. This is something OSU has now done twice already this year. But believe it or not, I think, even as a lifelong OSU fan, that we have every reason to be *gasp* optimistic.
I was in Waco for the game last week, and to be perfectly honest, Oklahoma State looked like the much better team in my opinion. They played penalty-free football for a majority of the game, had some semblance of a run game, and Mason Rudolph made NFL-caliber throws all night. If Ish Zamora hadn’t been on the field (which he shouldn’t have), I don’t think the game would have even been that close.
Nonetheless, here they sit at a 2-2 record with Texas coming in this weekend, and with them comes a great opportunity for the Cowboys. They are still a Top 25 opponent, but with the game being at home and an improved Oklahoma State running game, the Pokes should have every opportunity to beat them if they play like we did last week, just limiting the mistakes.
Texas does not have the type of receivers to constantly burn defenders like Baylor does, but they do have a strong running game behind Chris Warren and D’Onta Foreman. Conversely, the run defense has actually been a strength for the Cowboys so far, as shown by their performances the last two weeks against Baylor and Pitt. Baylor’s leading rusher against OSU was Seth Russell with 65 yards, while Pitt’s star back James Conner was kept quiet for majority of the game. Texas will surely try to establish their run game early, but if the front seven can stifle it, their offense may run into issues.
This gives me hope that OSU can play well and actually win this game, and if they do, the potential is there for some good things the rest of the season simply because of the schedule. The next two games after this week are against Iowa State and Kansas, which are both games that we would have to play very poorly in to not win. At that point, OSU would be staring at a much prettier 5-2 record and a date with a decent West Virginia team on homecoming, followed by a trip to Kansas State. Those games are extremely hard to predict right now, but there’s no reason that OSU couldn’t win both.
Take care of business here, and all of the sudden, OSU is 7-2 and 5-1 in the Big 12, with Texas Tech, TCU, and OU left on the schedule; from there, who knows what can happen.
The point is that the season is not over, in fact far from it. This Oklahoma State team has talent, they just need to limit the mistakes this time around. If they expect to contend, that must start this weekend in Stillwater.
But, if the Cowboys lose to Texas, the confidence in the team from the fan base would likely disappear, and any kind of chance at being a deciding factor in the Big 12 with it just five games into the season.