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Monday, June 23, 2014
Best case, worst case: Oklahoma State

By Brandon Chatmon

Last week, we started our series on the best-case and worst-case scenarios for each Big 12 team.

The premise of these fun posts is to take a look at what the season might look like if everything fell into place for each school, the best-case scenario for 2014. Conversely, we'll also show what might happen if everything goes wrong, the worst-case scenario.

Let's continue with Oklahoma State.

J.W. Walsh
A quick start by J.W. Walsh against Florida State could inspire Oklahoma State to a banner season.
BEST CASE

Led by a 300-yard passing day by quarterback J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State shocks the nation with a double-digit win over Florida State to kick off the season. Postgame pictures of former OSU standout and current Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant celebrating the win with current OSU players immediately becomes the lasting image of college football’s opening weekend.

And that’s just the beginning.

OSU extends its win streak to four after Walsh out duels Texas Tech’s Davis Webb in late September. Cowboys fans ride the wave of Walsh’s success, making “Our W is better than your W” shirts after the win, complete with strikethroughs of Webb and Jameis Winston's names.

The Cowboys' undefeated run through October starts to remind people of Mike Gundy’s 2011 team, which defied preseason expectations with a 12-1 mark. Receiver Jhajuan Seales, with over 1,000 receiving yards in the first eight games, is validating his reputation as the Cowboys’ next elite pass catcher.

Kansas State ends it all, handing OSU a road loss to start November as the youth of Gundy’s squad finally rises to the forefront in a game full of mental mistakes and miscues from the Pokes. The Cowboys rebound with a home win over Texas, but Art Briles and Baylor hand them loss No. 2 in Waco, Texas, the following week.

Two losses in its last three games sets up a huge Bedlam tilt with Oklahoma, which is undefeated and appears to be a shoo-in for the College Football Playoff and Big 12 title. Revenge is sweet for OSU as they leave Norman with a double-digit win and knock the Sooners out of playoff and Big 12 title contention.

Cowboy players use the word “Payback” after the game, making it clear what they had been talking about for the past week. Walsh finishes the year with over 3,800 passing yards and Seales cements All-American honors with a 200-yard performance against the Sooners.

An Alamo Bowl win over UCLA ends another 11-2 campaign in a season that didn’t begin with high expectations. Gundy smiles with pride and preseason prognosticators agree to a five-year hiatus from projecting OSU’s record until 2020.

WORST CASE

OSU is destroyed in the season opener against Florida State, with the Seminoles defense scoring more touchdowns than the Cowboys offense can muster in the blowout loss. Gundy has no answers after the game and seems shell-shocked as he just keeps mumbling, “My visor didn’t fit right” when asked a question.

His squad shakes off the loss, winning back to back games over UTSA and Missouri State, but Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders storm into Boone Pickens Stadium and hand the Cowboys their second blowout in four games. Webb throws for 623 yards and seven touchdowns in the win, which sees the Cowboys young secondary bust a coverage on four of those seven scores.

The Cowboys are able to knock off Iowa State at home and Kansas on the road before a turnover-filled loss at TCU results in a quarterback change from Walsh to ballyhooed freshman Mason Rudolph.

Thrown into the fire, Rudolph gets grilled.

The freshman struggles but OSU finds a way to beat West Virginia thanks to a late touchdown and a special teams score. Rudolph's struggles continue as the Pokes end the season with four straight losses to Kansas State, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma.

A 5-7 finish leaves the Cowboys licking their wounds heading into 2015 despite positive signs for the future from Rudolph, who passes for six combined touchdowns in losses to BU and OU in the final two games. After the Bedlam loss, Gundy is unyielding in his stance that the Cowboys taking their lumps will pay off in 2015.

Two weeks later Gundy announces his stock options in various companies, namely hair gel and private jet enterprises, have paid off to the tune of $82 million dollars. Knowing that number matches his career win total at OSU, Gundy takes it as a sign and retires.