The Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-3) will be a formidable force in 2017, as they were in 2016. Last year, the Cowboys finished tied for second in the Big 12 with a 7-2 record. They went to the Alamo Bowl where they beat Colorado 38-8. Our 2017 Oklahoma State Cowboys college football preview sees this team as vying for the top spot on the conference and playing in the reestablished Big 12 championship game against their rivals the Oklahoma Sooners.
It’s not that the Cowboys don’t have a rushing game, as they do, but it’s the fact that their pass attack is so massive, it seems as if they don’t have a ground attack. Senior QB Mason Rudolph, who ran for six scores last season while throwing 28 TD passes, had a 63.4% completion rate in 2016. He threw just four interceptions. Rudolph has the best receiving group in the conference. The O-line is decent and includes some players with solid experience and some new talent.
Senior WR James Washington and junior wideout Jalen McCleskey each had 70-plus catches in 2016. Washington, who had 1,380 yards in pass catches, averaged 19.4 YPC and scored 10 times. McCleskey was good for seven TDs, averaging 11.1 YPC and gaining a total of 812 yards. Chris Lacey put up good numbers in the second half of the season and top-performing Marcell Ateman, who returns from a back injury after missing last season, is capable of another 1,000-plus yard season. Sophomore TB Justice Hall leads the rush attack. Hall scored six times last season, averaging 5.5 YPA and gaining a total of 1,142 yards. This team put 38.6 PPG on the scoreboard last season.
The defense, which was ranked 53rd nationally and third in the Big 12, allowed on average 26.5 PPG. Overall, this is an average group with the secondary being below average and problematic. Only five starters come back from last season and each aspect of the D needs underpinning. Plus, two All-Big 12 players are gone. One player who may step up into a starting spot is senior DE Traland Webber who led the team with six sacks last season. Expect major contributions from junior DE Cole Walterscheid, who notched two sacks, 3.5 TFL, and five QBH. On the other end, Jarrell Owens had 2.5 sacks, three TFL, and three QBH.
Chad Whitener (71 TCKLs, 6.5 TFL) is the anchor of the LB unit, which will primarily be manned by young players with little to no experience. The safeties will be senior SS Tre Flowers (61 TCKLs, 2 TFL, 7 PBU) and former corner now FS Ramon Richards (64 TCKLs, 3 INTs, 6 PBU). Still, this unit is thin.
The Cowboy’s all-time leading score, placekicker Ben Grogan, is gone. Incoming freshman Jake McClure could get the job or it may go to sophomore Matt Ammendola. Punter Zach Sinor, who averaged 42.8 YPP and placed 35 of 56 within the 20-yard line, is one of the best in college football. New talent is need on kick and punt returns.
2017 Oklahoma State Cowboys College Football Preview: Final Word
Coach Mike Gundy (105-50 Overall, 7-4 Bowls) starts his 13th year at the helm. He certainly has a fine offense, but the defense is suspect. We don’t think they’ll be able to hold off some of the better teams. Plus, our 2017 Oklahoma State Cowboys college football preview finds that this team will have to play a fairly tough schedule, hampering their efficiency and ability to win.
Important games include Sep 16 when the Cowboys travel to Pennsylvania to play Pittsburgh. Last season, Rudolph played well against the Panthers. The next week, TCU visits Oklahoma State in a game that will really test the Cowboys. The following week, the Cowboys travel to Lubbock, TX to play Texas Tech. This could be a high-scoring contest. In another away game, OSU plays the Texas Longhorns on Oct 21. Nov 4 is the huge game with Oklahoma. The good news for the Cowboys is that they get to play this one at their home field.
Top Three Takeaways
Offense will score points
Defense needs upgrades in each area
Placekicker is questionable and has a tough act to follow