FOOTBALL IS BACK.
It’s officially game week and our writers have some serious expectations for the cowboys this year. Will 2017 play out like the 1945 season? What should cowboy fans be most concerned with this season? Who will breakout this year? Where will OSU go bowling?
Let’s dive in!
1) The Pokes have been getting some serious hype going into 2017 and are a trendy pick for the college football playoff. That being said, what are reasonable expectations for OSU this season?
Brodie Smith: Reasonable expectations include a regular season title and a berth in the (Re)Inaugural Big XII Championship Game. The Pokes begin the year in the Top Ten and should be in position to move up. That said, I am excited about the season, but my expectations are tempered with decades of frustrating football experience.
Micah Allen: I would say a Big 12 Championship. While I think that it's in the realm of possibility to go to the CFP, I'm not necessarily going to say I expect that to happen. We have a really good team this year but things happen.
Joel Penfield: I don't see any reason why this team cannot go 12-0, win a Big 12 title, and go to the CFP. With the amount of talent on this team, I believe it is reasonable to think they can do that. However this leaves a lot of room to be let down. I said on the Two Minute Drill on Friday that I think the ceiling is 12-0, the floor is 9-3.
Gallagher Martin: It's reasonable to expect 11+ wins this year and the Cowboys playing for the Big 12 championship. After back to back 10 win seasons, anything less than 11 wins might be a disappointment. My personal expectations are a Big 12 championship, and anything beyond that would be icing on the cake.
Cullen Clark: I've seen a lot of people say anything less than 10 wins this season is a disappointment and I agree. With the offense that the Cowboys will be running out on the field each week I just don't see how it's possible they don't win at least 10.
Will Hendrickson: I think a reasonable expectation for OSU this year is to be playing in for a Big 12 championship. Bedlam has played out like a pseudo conference championship game the last couple of years and there’s no reason OSU shouldn’t be playing for the title on December 4th in Arlington. A birth in the College Football Playoff is gravy.
2) Last season, Justice Hill burst onto the scene and won Big 12 newcomer of the year. Who is a player you are expecting to have a similar type of breakout season? Offense or Defense.
Brodie: I'll move to the other side of the ball and select a defensive contributor. I'm hopeful the linebacking corps becomes a position of strength and will thus look for either Calvin Bundage or Amen Ogbongbemiga to be much more well known by the close of that season.
Micah: A.J. Green. I think he really steps up this year. And we've talked a lot on this site about this secondary and how they're gonna be sneaky good this year. I think A.J Green is a big part of that. He's young but he's shown a lot of progress in practice.
Joel: I think it will be Tyron Johnson. He'll be able to make an impact both as a receiver and in the kick return game. I am very excited to see what he will be able to do for the Cowboys.
Gallagher: I think Tyron Johnson could be a trendy pick for Big 12 newcomer of the year on the offensive side of the ball, but he may get overshadowed with all the depth at wide receiver. Defensively, I want to answer Adrian Baker but I am concerned he wasn't even on the two-deep roster for the Tulsa game. So if it's not Baker, let's hope it's freshman cornerback Rodarius Williams, because cornerback seems like the biggest question mark at the moment.
Cullen: If I had to pick someone to breakout this season it would probably have to be on the defensive side of the ball. I'll go with Calvin Bundage or Justin Phillips from the linebacker group. I think both of these guys are going to have huge seasons for Glenn Spencer this year.
Will: I think our linebacker unit has a chance to be one of the best in the Big 12 this year and will surprise a lot of people. I’m keeping my eye on Calvin Bundage and Kenneth Edison-McGruder to have a big impact defensively this year.
3) What is the biggest question mark you have about this team going into the season?
Brodie: Isn't defense always the question? I do want to know what we have there, where we're full of unknowns and a great deal of hope. Perhaps this will be the year. But we say that every season seemingly. Oh, who am I kidding, the biggest question mark for this year is what Gundy and staff learned from that devastating Bedlam loss and how they'll apply it to the game plan and approach each week.
Micah: Does all of the hype get to them. Does is cause them to choke?
Joel: Will Mike Gundy and Mike Yurcich let the offense fly, not holding anything back? If they play it conservatively, they could play themselves out of a game, or even lose a winnable game. If this offense is what we all think it will be, no one will be able to stop them. Teams know what we have, there's no reason to leave anything in the playbook.
Gallagher: Cornerback is the biggest question mark for me. Rodarius Williams and A.J. Green are unproven, and the Cowboys will be heavily relying on them from starting Thursday. I'm confident in Ramon Richards and Tre Flower, but it seems like the secondary is one big injury away from being a major weak spot.
Cullen: My biggest question mark for this team is the defensive tackle depth. The starters are going to need breaks this year as we have seen in the past. While there is talent on the team there's not a lot of proven talent. If the Cowboy defense can't stop the run the defense could be in for a long season.
Will: I think a popular answer will be the secondary and specifically the cornerback position. While there are definitely questions there, I am more concerned about the kicking game going into the season. Ben Grogan was no Dan Bailey, but he was at least consistent inside 40 yards. Matt Amendola has a huge leg, but will he be accurate on a consistent basis? I’m not sure.
4) Which scenario is most likely to happen: Rudolph wins the Heisman, Washington wins the Biletnikoff, or OSU goes the CFP?
Brodie: Washington getting the Biletnikoff is the easy choice, but more likely for me is the CFP. If that happens, individual awards would certainly be in play.
Micah: Washington wins the Biletnikoff, This WR corp is already getting a lot of media attention and with Washington being a leader of that group I think there's going to be a lot of people paying attention to him.
Joel: Washington wins the Bilentikoff. I think Rudolph has a chance at the Heisman but there are many other talented quarterbacks in the nation in contention as well. The Big 12 does not get a lot of respect, so the likelihood of getting into the CFP is slim. James Washington is the best receiver in the nation, and there's no reason to believe he doesn't have a chance at winning the award that is given to the best receiver in the nation.
Gallagher: This one is easy. Rudolph isn't the front runner for the Heisman, Oklahoma State isn't expected to win the Big 12 much less make the playoffs, but Washington is regarded as the best receiver in the country. The Biletnikoff is Washington's to lose. Washington also has the added bonus of not having to compete against Dede Westbrook. Rudolph will have to outperform Mayfield for a Heisman, Oklahoma State will have to outperform Oklahoma for a spot int he CPF, but Washington just has to put up numbers he's capable of.
Cullen: The most likely scenario to me is that Washington wins the Biletnikoff. I think the Cowboys would have to make the CFP playoff for Rudolph to win the Heisman. By no means am I saying this won't happen, I just feel like Washington winning the Biletnikoff is the most likely.
Will: While Washington is the best WR in the country, I think OSU has too many weapons for Washington to get the touches he would need for the Biletnikoff. In addition to Washington, Rudolph has Mcleskey, Ateman, Lacy, and Johnson at his disposal through the air and Justice Hill and JD King balancing things out on the ground. I think the most likely scenario is for OSU to go to the CFP. The opportunity is there for this cowboy team and if everything goes as planned, OSU can beat everyone on their schedule.
5) With a relatively favorable schedule in 2017, OSU has a chance to be favored in almost every game this season. Other than Bedlam, what is the one game you are most concerned with on the schedule?
Brodie: Any game. Any Saturday...or Friday...or Thursday... I don't think OSU is in a position to not be concerned with any opponent not named South Alabama. We know the Cowboys have a strong team that should be a favorite in almost every contest. But, I think the next game on the schedule should always bring concern for this team to play with and edge and grow from last season.
Micah: West Virginia in Morgantown. Morgantown is a crazy place where crazy things happen and it's a tough place to go and play. WVU can win even when they're not supposed to. Plus we had an intern this summer who went to WVU and we talked a lot of crap so ya know scared of it coming back to bite me.
Joel: At Iowa State in November, for obvious reasons. No further comment.
Gallagher: I'm not ecstatic about going to West Virginia, but I don't think the Mountaineers are as good as their fans think they are. But Morgantown is a tough place to play and as long as they are coached by Dana Holgorsen, Oklahoma State is going to get their best shot. I could see this game being an ugly one like 2015, but I still expect to win.
Cullen: The Texas game worries me a lot this season. Coach Herman has played well as an underdog in his brief career and the Cowboys have won four straight games in Austin. I don't think Texas is back by any means but OSU was the first team to ever win four straight in Austin. Can they make it five?
Will: There are a number of tricky games on the schedule this year and the one that worries me the most is at West Virginia on Oct. 28th. It’s sandwiched between OU and Texas on the schedule and I have an eery feeling it will be a Halloween themed night game. It will be a crazy atmosphere in Morgantown and the Pokes will have their hands full against the Mountaineers.
6) How will the Cowboys fare in 2017? Final record and bowl prediction.
Brodie: OSU field's its best team ever. Yes, better than 2011. That team suffered one heartbreaking loss and defeated Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. This team, on paper, should have everything in place to run the table leading into Bedlam. It's been difficult enough for OSU to top the Sooners in consecutive years, let alone twice in just over a month (assuming OU meets its fanbase's expectations despite key losses on offense and with a new coach taking over). I want this team to go undefeated but can't make that prediction because it's too difficult to accomplish on the field. I'll say 12-1 with a Big XII Championship and a CFP appearance in the Sugar Bowl.
Micah: 12-1, Sugar
Joel: 13-1, Big 12 Championship victory, and Sugar Bowl victory.
Gallagher: 15-0. National Champs, baby!
Cullen: I'll take 12-1 with a CFP appearance. I think the Big 12 is going to be a lot better as a whole this year which will help a one loss OSU squad make the playoff. I think they lose to either Texas or Oklahoma during the regular season and defeat Oklahoma in the rematch for the Big 12 title.
Will: With everything I have I want to say Big 12 championship and a berth in the CFP...but sadly I think the Big 12 champ will be left out again.
12-1. Big 12 champs and spot in the Sugar Bowl.