Oklahoma State Blog - College

  • Such a roller-coaster ride of a season thus far, wouldn't you agree? I won't beat a dead horse on recounting the slings and arrows of what were the Arizona and Texas games, frankly because we've seen and heard enough of that from local sports talk radio and on The Corral, not to mention our Sooner brethren. Even so, Oklahoma State's stumbling out to a 2-2 start in a Big 12 conference that is truly more wide open than it has been in some time isn't a call for doom and gloom, unless we're talking about speed packages that the defensive play-calling has embraced up to this point.

    We've got some other reasons to be excited…and not all of them are stemming from Orange Country, USA. Josh Cooper, Mustang's favorite son and former OSU Cowboys chain mover, is likely to get the nod to start in his first career NFL game this weekend when the 3-2 Cincinnati Bengals roll into Cuyahoga County in an AFC North battle for Ohio. Cooper's Cleveland Browns squad is a less than impressive 0-5 so far (including a 34-27 squeaker win for the Bengals in the first meeting of these two teams), but the record is not entirely revealing of the progress this team has made since installing another one of Cooper's friends from his Stillwater days: first-round pick, quarterback Brandon Weeden.

    Edmond native Weeden has governed the anemic Browns offense to the 14th-rated passing attack in the NFL despite a 5:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio…and frankly there are 4 of those that I recall being largely due to his receivers coming down with multiple cases of skillet hands, so it's tough to sneer at him and the Brownies as the same old Browns. Even a background in professional baseball is not enough to prepare anyone for the super-freaks that suit up in an NFL team uniform every Sunday, and Weeden has spent enough time on his back through five weeks to know that there is a learning curve (his Twitter feed is a great indicator that he knows that he and his teammates have ample room to grow).

    The silver lining for us? Two Oklahoma State football legacies have a shot to recapture some of their Boone Pickens Stadium glory and put it on display at 12PM Central on Sunday, October 14th. I don't think Cooper and Weeden will be the heroes of the day necessarily, but they're bound to give us as Pokes fans something to cheer about…well, that and a blowout win 'lock' over the University of Kansas this weekend.

    The Browns game will be broadcast regionally on CBS and on DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket on channel 708; you can also hear the Cleveland Browns radio broadcast on Sirius Radio on channel 91.

  • Thu Oct 11 01:48am EDT

    Asterisks

    To date, 2012 has been a season of asterisks* for Oklahoma State football; equal parts electrifying and mystifying. The Cowboys opened at home against FCS opponent Savannah State - a team so hopelessly outmatched*, the results have been completely discarded from every meaningful statistical analysis*. The following week, Wes Lunt notched the first loss of his freshman campaign* against Arizona - in a game marred by turnovers* and penalties*, but interspersed with tantalizing flashes of talent*. Six plays into his third game, Lunt was sidelined by an injury and redshirt freshman* JW Walsh took care of the Ragin' Cajuns in record-breaking* fashion. Following a bye week, Walsh continued his offensive proficiency* - albeit in a losing effort against Texas*. All of which left OSU as the second worst team in the Big 12*, preparing for only its second contest in 28 days**, against the worst team in the league*. An afterthought to the college football world, Saturday's game against Kansas could easily be billed as a battle for the Big 12 cellar. Yet the Cowboys (and this fan at least) seem confident in a second consecutive Big 12 title run. A one (or even two) loss champion is highly probable and every opponent left on the schedule is beatable. The margin is razor thin - but running the table is certainly a plausible scenario. Quietly and methodically, the Pokes championship run begins Saturday. Positioned comfortably outside of the top 25, the next three weeks will slip glacially by in relative obscurity. Not until OSU leaves the Little Apple victorious will the media eye again be cast in the Cowboys' direction. In the event of a Synder-Cat taming, keep an eye on Morgantown-area Red Bull sales and high-end real estate in both Norman and Lubbock. The Cowboy's are comin'...and hell is comin' with 'em.


    • Listed in the order they appear.
    • Yes, it was an FCS opponent, but this game was still OSU's most lopsided victory since 1916.
    • Statistics from the SSU game are meaningless on so many levels, it would have been better for everyone (except the 3rd and 4th teamers) had the game never been played.
    • First *true* freshman QB in school history to start the season opener.
    • Two of Lunt's INTs were tipped (catchable) balls and not *really* his fault. Not that anyone cares.
    • A school record 167 penalty yards would have been north of 200 yards had "half the distance to the goal" not come into play (see also Zeno's Paradox).
    • Lunt's 436 yards set a Big 12 freshman passing record - worthy of fourth highest yards total in school history.
    • Perhaps the first time the Cowboys had ever gone from one freshman QB to another freshman QB?
    • A backup QB who is not known for his throwing ability, set a new school record with 742 yards of offense.
    • Good for the fourth highest QB rating in the country. Highest of the Gundy era?
    • Ball did not cross the goal line, check. Runner lost the ball, check. OSU recovered, check. TD Texas! (Green Bay says hello.)
    • If anyone believes this...
    • Bye weeks - especially bye weeks before playing KU - tend to generate blogosphere blatherskite such as you are now reading.
    • Yes, pretty much everyone believes Kansas is the league's worst.
  • Driving home from the Arizona game, I was left wondering how a rising program — especially one with a history as hopeless as Oklahoma State's — found itself setting a school record for penalty yards in 2012. Prior to the "Debacle in the Desert" (as the headlines proclaimed), I assumed all negative records were firmly entrenched in the 90s — never to be sniffed by Gundy-era squads. Which is but one reason the penalty yards against the Wildcats were so spectacular and arguably the story of the season to date. Like many fans, I was left wondering if the penalties against UA were an outlier to be discarded or a sign of things to come. The statistics, at least, seem to indicate the former.

    Going back to 2007, several penalty-related trends begin to emerge. Foremost among these is the Cowboy's propensity to start the year with sloppy play and then improve (dramatically) in conference. During the first three games of each season, from 2007 — 2011, the Cowboys averaged 22 more penalty yards per game (77) than during the remainder of the season. At an average of 84 penalty yards per game, the 2012 Cowboys are only slightly worse than usual in the penalty department — with two glaring caveats. As the graph below makes clear, the Arizona game was every bit as exceptional as the other two data points.

    Although largely unreported, the games against Savannah State and Louisiana-Lafayette were relatively penalty free and rank first and second in terms of fewest penalties to open the season (games 1 — 3) since 2007. This continues the downward trend in penalties begun in 2011. The 2011 season was one of the cleanest in the Gundy era, with an average of 50 penalty yards per game — good for a NCAA ranking of 65 (out of 120). Provided the Cowboys ran more offensive plays than all but fifteen teams and defended the most plays of any team during the same period, this ranking could have been much worse (granted, defensive penalties often contribute to an increase in plays defended). With the exception of the ISU loss, the last five games of 2011 were very clean — a trend which was continued in 2012 with both SSU and ULL. The worst penalty-laden game in OSU history stands as a lonely statistical anomaly in an otherwise downwards trend.  For the sake of Cowboy nation (not to mention my blogging credentials), here's hoping the trend continues!

    A few other interesting tidbits gleaned from the same penalty data (2007 — 2011):

    • For all games since 2007, the Cowboys average roughly 61 penalty yards per game. Excluding 2012, the average drops one (measly) yard to 60.
    • Against the PAC 10 (7 games), OSU averages 66 penalty yards per game. Against the Big 12 (41 games), OSU averages 54 penalty yards per game.
    • Of the five most penalized games, four were recorded by the third game of the season or before.
    • During the final game of 2011 (Stanford), OSU was only penalized once for five yards;  easily the best since 2007.
    • The 2012 UA game was also the most lopsided by a wide margin. OSU had 140 (!) more penalty yards than UA. The next closest game was in 2009 when OSU had 88 more penalty yards than ATM.
    • By themselves, penalties do not seem directly correlated to wins and losses. The Cowboys are 22 - 7 (75.86%) when the team is penalized more than average and 28 - 11 (71.79%) when at or under the average. Exactly opposite of what you might expect. Similarly, games where the penalties are lopsided in one direction show no correlation to wins and losses.
  • Mon Sep 24 05:25pm EDT

    Can Walsh Beat Texas?

    In August, Cowboy fans considered Texas a likely win. Even Vegas had OSU favored at the beginning of the year, but after OSU's lackluster performance in the desert and Texas's dismantling of Ole Miss, the game looks a bit different. To top it off OSU lost their starting QB on the sixth play of the Louisiana game. However, there are some reasons to convince me OSU can beat Texas and three reasons they can't.

    #1 Walsh's Feet

    Most defensive coordinators would agree that dual threat quarterbacks are the hardest thing to prepare for. It is easier to prepare for a running or passing offense, but the combination of the two can give coordinators fits. Lunt's uncertain status is causing Texas to prepare for a pro-style, drop back QB (Lunt) and a fast QB with running ability (Walsh). Texas has proven to have a pretty stout pass rush with the ability to get up the field quickly. Fans should look for Walsh to make some plays after being pressured out of the pocket despite the offensive line giving up zero sacks on the year.

    #2 The Zone Read/Option

    Remember the images of Vince Young pulling the ball from the RB and running the other way through a wide open gap? These images haunt not only OSU fans but USC and Oklahoma fans as well. After watching the game last Saturday, (hopefully) Monken is implementing a form of the zone read with a QB run option. This play will allow OSU to take advantage of Texas's fast aggressive defense while requiring them to play stay-at-home defense instead of pinning their ears back and blitzing all night (which they will do against Lunt). The threat of the Walsh keeping the ball and running around the end for 20 yards will help neutralize Texas's defensive ends. The zone read option is must be worked on in practice and failure to prepare can lead to big plays (ask anybody that has played Georgia Tech about option preparation).

    #3 Walsh's Leadership

    It is clear to anybody looking close enough that Walsh is a born leader. He is the son of a coach, and appears to have a high understanding of the game. He was named a team captain despite being a back-up at the beginning of the year. I don't see Walsh getting rattled and having a Landry-esque mental breakdown. Playing a night game in front of their home crowd creates a scenario where beating Texas for the third year straight is easily imaginable.

    Reasons Walsh won't Beat Texas

    #1 Walsh's Style of play

    Saturday, Walsh reminded me of Brett Favre (minus the arm). Not so much the talent, but the style of play. Walsh sprints down the field celebrating every score like an 8th grader in the city playoffs. There were times fans could see him jawing with the opposing team. Walsh plays with an excitement and energy Lunt and Weeden lacked, and this style can rub teams the wrong way when leading by 40. As a result, Louisiana committed some of the most atrocious late hit penalties I have ever seen. Whether it be coaches orders or frustration, defenses with extra motivation to hurt the opposing QB play a little better (at least Roger Goodell seems to think so). Also, Walsh took too many hits and coaches should be telling him to avoid lowering his shoulder against the Texas linebackers. If Texas knocks him out, OSU will be down to the third string QB.

    #2 Walsh's Arm

    Yes, Walsh was 21-30 for 347 yards and 4 touchdowns last week. But any D coordinator will notice Walsh's inability to throw the ball outside the hashes. The deep 20 yard out that Lunt and Weeden threw with ease is not an option for Walsh. You can see it on the pass attempt to Tracy Moore when Walsh left the ball 10 yards short. Every completion was over the middle and it became obvious that Walsh struggled with other throws. Expect Texas to keep the safeties in the middle of the field while playing tight man coverage on the outside daring Walsh to make the long throws. Safeties not worrying about deep throws over the top or having to double a Blackmon or Bryant will cheat in and stop the run.

    #3 The Defense

    What does this have to do with Walsh? Well, the defense can't rely on the Offense scoring 45+ points like with Weeden, and up to this point they have showed little. I personally think the defense will have a solid night, but questions still need to be answered such as the lack of takeaways. Against Ole Miss, Texas's power run game looked the best it has since ESPN last aired "Run Ricky Run." Brown and Gilbert only job should be to shut down the two best receivers one-on-one all game. If OSU can take out the passing threat they will be able to play 8 or 9 in the box, and with the improvement at defensive tackle (Barnett) the run game can be stopped. Up to this point though, fans should be weary based on the Arizona game.

    Will Walsh start? Will the defense wake up? Is Texas's offensive that good? All these questions will be answered next Saturday. There is a chance fans will see a performance similar to the other run oriented freshman QB with an average arm play against Texas for the first time at home. There is a possibility Walsh could repeat Tony Lindsey's 126 yards rushing in 1997 against Texas.

  • Mon Dec 05 01:34pm EST

    Conflict of interest

    The last 16 or so hours have seen people across the country discussing the inherent issues facing the BCS and its selection process, and whether a LSU-Alabama rematch was justified. We'll jump into all of those issues here on the Cowboy Corral Blog, but not before what I view as the most disgusting aspect to the whole fiasco.

    That is the way ESPN unabashedly pushed for the title game that came to pass. It was in force for some time, but came to a crescendo on Saturday as conference championship games (as well as the de facto Big 12 Championship game in Stillwater). The "mothership" kicked off the Saturday campaign by bringing Alabama head coach on to its most-watched college football program, and allowed practically begged Nick Saban to stump for his team's inclusion in the mythical national championship game over the course of two hours of College Gameday.

    It continued in ESPN's parent company's broadcast of the ACCvChampionship Game. The worst example came after ABC's broadcast of Oklahoma State's 44-10 whipping of (then) No. 10 Oklahoma, when ESPN's SportsCenter and College Football Final kicked things over to the ACC announcing crew of Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger. Rather than discuss the possibility that No. 3 OSU had done enough to warrant discussion of moving to No. 2, the duo launched immediately into selling the LSU-Alabama rematch.

    "In all likelihood, it is going come up LSU-Alabama, and Oklahoma State is going to be left out," Musburger declared as "Herbie" nodded along with a smug grin. "You know, I want to make a point about rematches.

    "Remember the Giants-Patriots a few years ago? That wasn't too bad a rematch in the Super Bowl. Huh?

    "How about Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed? Rocky II?"

    Yes, Musburger actually pointed to an NFL game (which came about due to a playoff system) and a battle of two fictional boxers.

    Herbstreit? He agrees that Balboa-Creed was "great." He threw in the Michigan State-Wisconsin game he had just broadcast as another example of a good rematch.

    The real question is why ESPN cares so much about an all-SEC mythical national championship game.

    They'll be broadcasting that game, so there's a pretty major vested interest there. That being said, most analysts would say that LSU-OSU would likely have had better ratings than a do-over of the LSU-Alabama field goal fest on Nov. 5.

    So what else then?

    The Southeastern Conference has signed a 15-year deal with ESPN reportedly worth more than $2 billion to televise sporting events, including football and men's and women's basketball. - Associated Press, August 25, 2008

    Here's a little quote from SEC commissioner Mike Slive in that same AP report.

    "This agreement makes the SEC the most widely distributed conference in the country."

    ESPN has $2 billion reasons to desire to see the SEC as strong as possible. What better way than to help guarantee a national champion from the conference, than to use its vast reach to influence public opinion and voters ahead of the final polls?

  • Sun Dec 04 11:58am EST

    Long day ahead

    On the heels where just about everything that could have gone right for Oklahoma State's national championship hopes did go right, it makes for a long day for OSU supporters while waiting for polls and computer rankings to be released.

    As of 10:50 AM CST, only Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings have been updated. In it, OSU remains third. The Cowboys inexplicably gained only .63 points after soundly beating the No. 6 team in last week's standings.

    Among the human polls, the Associated Press Top 25 typically is released first, around noon. It is not part of the BCS formula, however. The USA Today Coaches Poll also is generally released around noon, while the Harris Interactive Poll has generally been made public by mid-afternoon.

    Cowboy fans - and the rest of the country - will find out the national championship pairing on the BCS selection show at 7:15 CST on ESPN. Public sentiment has seemed to trend toward favoring an OSU-LSU matchup, but many experts still project an Alabama-LSU rematch.

  • Here are a couple of interesting tables, courtesy "OSUDave" on the Corral message board. All data is taken from the BCS computer rankings.

  • Mon Nov 28 09:17pm EST

    The “Body of Work”

    In the discussion of possible BCS Championship contenders, the words "body of work" come up frequently. Since No. 3 Oklahoma State appears to be the only team with any shot at moving up into the top two, let's take a look at the body of work for both OSU and No. 2 Alabama. For the purposes of this discussion, we must assume an Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma on Saturday, as there is nothing to discuss if OSU loses. Lose to OU and the discussion turns to whether OSU can land an at-large BCS bid, or be relegated to a regular Big 12-tie bowl. If next Sunday morning comes and both schools are 11-1, who has the best body of work?

    Overall record/Conference record: Alabama 11-1 (7-1), Oklahoma State 11-1 (8-1)

    Opponent Win-Percentage (FBS-only): OSU .572, Bama .542

    Wins, top-to-bottom per Sagarin ELO Chess (BCS formula)1

    1. Kansas State 9-2 (5**) < Arkansas 10-2 (4)
    2. Oklahoma 9-3* (6*) > @ Penn State 9-3 (27)
    3. Baylor 8-3 (7**) > At Auburn 7-5 (18)
    4. At Texas 7-4 (13) > Mississippi State 6-6 (31)
    5. Missouri 7-5 (16) > At Florida 6-6 (36)
    6. At Texas A&M 6-6 (17) > Vanderbilt 6-6 (42)
    7. At Tulsa 8-4 (27) > Tennessee 5-7 (47)
    8. At Texas Tech 5-7 (29) > Georgia Southern (FCS) 9-2 (79)
    9. Kansas 2-10 (66) > Ole Miss 2-10 (102)
    10. Arizona 4-8 (70) > Kent State 5-7 (117)
    11. Louisiana 8-4 (78) > North Texas 4-7 (119)

    *As noted from the outset, assumes OSU win over OU, raising their L total and lowering Sagarin rating
    **Several Big 12 teams play each other this weekend; BU-Texas, Kansas State-Iowa State

    Loss "Quality": Bama 6-9 OT at home vs #1 (unanimous) LSU. OSU 31-37 2OT at Iowa State (22 Sagarin)

    Margin of Victory (all wins, including FCS): Bama 29.9, OSU 25.4

    Out-of-Conference schedule: Both teams played a well-regarded team on the road (Bama at Penn State, OSU at Tulsa). Both played one BCS conference opponent (PSU, Arizona). Oklahoma State did not play a FCS opponent, and had one fewer OOC opponent due to the Big 12's additional conference game in the round-robin format. Any Big 12 opponent is regarded higher than either Kent State or North Texas by the computer rankings.

    Road schedule/wins:
    OSU 6 games/5 wins (Tulsa, Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri, Texas Tech)
    Bama 5 games/5 wins (Penn State, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn)

    Conference Strength: BCS computers spit out the Big 12 as the nation's toughest conference. An argument can certainly be made that the SEC is equal or nearly so. The catch? OSU played every Big 12 team. Alabama avoided playing the SEC East's top two teams (Georgia and South Carolina), though through no fault of their own (other than not making the SEC Championship game to face Georgia).

    So there is the "body of work" data, with as little commentary as possible. That leaves it to the reader to do the interpretation.

    1The Sagarin Rating was chosen due to the fact it rates all FBS & FCS teams, is readily available and has a long history, as well as being part of the BCS formula.

  • Mon Nov 28 12:50pm EST

    Groundswell building for OSU?

    When the BCS standings were released on Sunday night, the court of public opinion - at least the one ESPN forms - was that regardless of any results in conference championship games and season finales, the title game is set for a rematch of LSU and Alabama.

    Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy largely declined on Monday morning to politick for his No. 3 Cowboys to move into the championship game if they beat No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday night. And that is ok, as Gundy's first priority is to win that game, and the Big 12 Championship that comes with it. None of the BCS talk matters a whit if Gundy's Pokes fail to get that done.

    Others - particularly in the media - don't have the constraint of preparing for a huge game, and there is a growing groundswell of support for the idea that an 11-1 Oklahoma State deserves a shot at the title over 11-1 Alabama, who will be idle this weekend during the SEC Championship game. Here's a sampling:

    Alabama blew it; Oklahoma State deserves a shot - Gil LeBreton, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

    The Last BCS Curveball: Could Oklahoma State play for it all? - Pete Fiutak, College Football News

    Additionally, Mike Greenberg of ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" defended OSU's "bad loss" on this morning's show by pointing out an important fact that is largely overlooked - that the Cowboys woke up on Friday morning to learn that the OSU family had suffered yet another tragic plane crash involving athletics.

    The thought that LSU-Alabama is a so-called done deal certainly still prevails, but there may be a groundswell of support for the idea that a rematch is unnecessary. If that thought continues to gain ground, a Bedlam-winning Oklahoma State is the only team truly in the discussion.

  • Wed Nov 23 07:39pm EST

    Stanford ahead of OSU?

    Stanford head coach David Shaw had some strong words about Oklahoma State being ahead of his Cardinal squad in the BCS standings.

    "Oklahoma State is outstanding, a very good football team," Shaw said. "Once again, we lost to a team that was in the Top 10, they lost to a team that's not ranked. I don't get it. Not saying that where we should be opposed to where other people are, I'm just saying the explanations I get don't make any sense. Now, there is a lot of football to be played a lot of stuff that's going to shake itself out."

    Here's what you're missing, coach:

    First off, we'll stipulate that he is right: Stanford's one loss is a "better" loss than OSU's. Oregon is an outstanding football team. Iowa State is average. Maybe even above average, but not on plane with the Ducks.

    Shaw's flaw? OSU's schedule to get to 10-1 was much tougher overall than Stanford's. Eight of the Cowboys' opponents are currently above .500. Stanford has five such opponents. OSU has seen four teams that are at least 7-3 through week 12. Stanford? Two.

    Those same opponents are 66-52 overall (OSU) versus 55-67 (Stanford). Include Oklahoma and Notre Dame and it moves to 74-54 and 63-70 for the two teams.

    The Big 12 is a better football conference in 2011. The computers say so, and so does the so-called "eye test." Beyond playing in a tougher conference, OSU played a tougher non-con schedule. It wasn't a murder's row, but did include 8-3 Louisiana and 8-3 Tulsa...not to mention PAC-12 member Arizona, who isn't even the worst team in that conference.

    Shaw has a higher ranking in the human polls, but what put Stanford behind Oklahoma State in the BCS standings is OSU's strength in the computers...which factors strength of schedule.

    Props to Shaw for speaking out for his team in the court of public opinion. Don't agree with his message, but it's what a coach should do.

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