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Second-half outlook: Oklahoma State

10/21/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Record: 5-1

Remaining schedule: at Baylor, Texas, at Iowa State, Texas Tech, Colorado, at Oklahoma

It’s been an eventful year for Mike Gundy. He’s had to overcome the loss of two of his three major offensive weapons in Kendall Hunter’s recurring foot injury and Dez Bryant being ruled ineligible after lying to the NCAA about his association with Deion Sanders. The Cowboys have rebounded from those blows thanks to a strong first half from quarterback Zac Robinson, who has directed an offense that still ranks eighth in scoring, 15th in passing efficiency and is tied for 33rd in rushing. Veteran defensive coordinator Bill Young's unit has made some strides, particularly in the second half of victories over Texas A&M and Missouri. The Cowboys need to build on those strong performances and hope for some NCAA mercy that maybe Bryant can return to the lineup to provide an offensive lift down the stretch. The Cowboys are exactly where they wanted to be heading into the season with the Texas game approaching in two weeks. They have the Longhorns at home. Even with the injuries and absences, they still have a shot at pulling off an upset that would give them the inside track to their first Big 12 title. All they have to do is keep winning.

Best-case scenario: After losing to Texas and Mack Brown 11 straight times, the 12th turns into a charm for the Cowboys. The upset provides momentum where they conclude with a victory over Texas Tech at home before heading to Owen Field. Oklahoma State claims its first victory there over the Sooners since 2001 to finish off its South Division title.

Worst-case scenario: Not only do the Cowboys lose to Texas and Oklahoma, but also another game as well to finish 8-4. It’s a respectable record and will send them on a nice bowl trip, but it isn’t what Gundy was expecting after the way his team started despite missing so much key personnel.

My prediction: Mid-level bowl. The Cowboys look like they'll be heading to the Alamo Bowl with Gundy in charge. The last time OSU visited San Antonio, coach Les Miles bolted for LSU only a couple of days later. With the new additions at Boone Pickens Stadium and Gundy’s presence, that shouldn’t be an issue this time. But it would still be a little disappointing considering the Cowboys' fast start this season and strong perseverance through the early setbacks.