College Football Preview: The 2014 Oklahoma State Cowboys
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2014 College Football Preview
Odds to Win National Championship: 80-1 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The Oklahoma State Cowboys finished the season with a 10-3 record and won 10 of their first 11 games. As usual, Oklahoma State had one of the best offenses in the country, averaging 39.1 points per game and a defense that ranked 19th in the country in points allowed. Mike Gundy continues to take Oklahoma State to new heights, as he’s led the program to double-digits wins in three of his last four seasons. Still, it always feels like Oklahoma State is a bounce or two away from playing for a national title.
Offense: In order for Oklahoma State’s offense to remain elite, quarterback J.W. Walsh has to improve. Last season, Walsh completed less than 60 percent of his passes and threw five interceptions compared to nine touchdowns. Oklahoma State only had a Top 30 passing offense due to Clint Chelf, and he’s no longer on the team. The good news for the Cowboys is that power running back Desmond Roland returns after averaging more than four years per carry and grinding out 13 touchdowns. OK State also has a couple of question marks at wide receiver with no more Tracy Moore or Josh Stewart. Still, Oklahoma State should be in good hands with Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd and Marcell Ateman forming a solid wide receiver corps. Just how I don’t ever doubt Alabama’s defense, I’m not questioning Oklahoma State’s offense. This unit will be ready to go once the season begins.
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Defense: Oklahoma State’s defense didn’t get nearly enough credit last season as it racked up 24 sacks and forced 33 turnovers. However, that same defense is going to look a lot different this year. Oklahoma State loses seven starters from last season, which includes their top three tackles and 17 of their 21 interceptions. It’s never easy to replace nearly an entire unit no matter who you are. The good thing for OK State is that there is potential up front with Jimmy Bean and James Castleman along the defensive line. Those two will put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and Ryan Simmons is a truly underrated linebacker who will anchor the second line of defense. The Cowboys also have some pretty good corners in Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin, who form one of the better tandems in the Big 12. Oklahoma State has its work cut out if its defense is going to be anywhere close to what it was a season ago.
Special Teams: Ben Grogan returns at kicker after making 11 of 18 attempts, while Kip Smith returns at punter after averaging just shy of 40 yards per boot.
Outlook: We’ll find out just how good Oklahoma State is going to be opening weekend against Florida State. But if you can’t wait that long, it’s tough to imagine OK State being as good as last season. The Cowboys lost way too much experience, have no true answer at quarterback and have an extremely young defense. Oklahoma State is still going to score its points and remain competitive but don’t expect a Big 12 title or anything crazy.