Thursday, February 2, 2012
Season report card: Oklahoma State
By ESPN.com staff
We're offering up grades for each team in the Big 12 after their seasons conclude, so here's a look at how the 12-1 Oklahoma State Cowboys graded out in 2011.
More report cards:
OFFENSE: This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Let's get it over with quick. Brandon Weeden was about as good as any quarterback in the country, and if the ball bounces differently in a couple spots, he wins the Heisman Trophy. He finished with the most yards (4,727) and tied for the most touchdowns (37) in the Big 12.
Justin Blackmon was the nation's top receiver and won the Biletnikoff Award for the second consecutive season, becoming just the second player in college football history to do so.
Joseph Randle was third in the Big 12 in rushing (1,216 yards) and ran for more touchdowns (24) than any other running back in the Big 12.
The offensive line surrendered just 12 sacks. Add it all up, and you get an offense that produced in every game and ranked third in total offense and second nationally in scoring. Well done, even without coordinator Dana Holgorsen.
DEFENSE: Yes, this defense was, for lack of a better term, "misunderstood." But even with the nation-leading 44 forced turnovers, five more than any team in college football, you can't ignore the chunk of yardage this team gave up. It also looked relatively helpless late against a mediocre offense in the loss to Iowa State.
The Cowboys finished 107th in total defense. Yeah, they faced more snaps, but they gave up a whole lot of yards on those snaps. It was still 59th in yards per play, at 5.45. The Cowboys forced tons of huge turnovers, and that gives their grade (and defensive scoring average) a bump, but this defense was far from dominant.
OVERALL: Just about everybody thought OSU had a shot to win the Big 12 when the season began. Few picked it, but nobody would have been truly surprised if the Cowboys won the league. But to finish 12-1 and win the Big 12 by a full two games in the first year of round-robin scheduling?
Wow. Think about that for a second.
The Cowboys won their first Big 12 title and made history in style. The Big 12 title was on the line on the final night of the regular season, and OSU played arguably its best game of the year, a complete embarrassment of rival Oklahoma, 44-10, in a game that wasn't even that close.
The national title game was so, so close, but the Iowa State loss costs the Cowboys an A+. Even still, an amazing season for the Pokes that they'll remember forever.