Johnson: Really, How Good Is Oklahoma State?
Oklahoma State S Markelle Martin
Oklahoma State S Markelle Martin
Posted Oct 31, 2011

Thought: Is Oklahoma State really good enough to play for it all?

By Terry Johnson

It's a foregone conclusion that the winner of this week's historic LSU – Alabama game will play for the national championship. Assuming that the two teams do not meet again in New Orleans, who will play the SEC Champion for all the marbles?

The answer is - the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

OSU has quietly ascended to the number three spot in the BCS Standings, and will likely move the number two after this weekend's SEC West showdown.

How good is Oklahoma State?

Judging by their body of work so far, the Cowboys deserve this lofty ranking, winning all of their games convincingly, beating seven of their eight opponents by double digits.

The one game that OSU didn't win by two scores might have been the most impressive victory of all. Trailing 20-3 at halftime on the road against then No. 8 Texas A&M, Oklahoma State mounted furious second half comeback to defeat the Aggies 30-29.

This win not only highlighted Oklahoma State's offensive firepower, but it demonstrated that the attack has a rare quality that all championship teams have – the ability to overcome adversity. After OSU's offense played a horrid first half, and had trouble keeping A&M out of the end zone, it looked like the Cowboys championship dreams were over. However, Coach Gundy's troops regrouped at halftime, displayed the resilience of a championship team, and dominated Texas A&M in the second half.

Despite the 8-0 start, many people have criticized Oklahoma State, saying that other than Texas A&M, the Cowboys have not played against strong competition. Does OSU have enough talent to compete against top-flight competition, such as Kansas State and Oklahoma?

Yes, they do.

For Oklahoma State, success starts with the QB position. Brandon Weeden ranks 7th nationally in passing yards per game, 17th in passing efficiency and completes an astonishing 71.3% of his passes. In addition to his excellent statistics, the 28-year-old Weeden provides maturity and leadership to a young, talented offense – exactly the type of leader needed when a team falls behind early.

The Oklahoma State offense – which ranks fifth in the country with 555 yards per game in total offense - is more than just the Brandon Weeden show. WR Justin Blackmon has terrorized opposed defensive backs all season long averaging 9 catches and 100 yards receiving per game. The Cowboys also have one top RB tandems in John Randle and Jeremy Smith, who combine for almost 170 yards per game.

Under veteran defensive coordinator Bill Young, the Cowboys pride themselves on playing bend-but-don't break defense. Unlike the offense, the OSU defense does not rank in the Top 20 in virtually every category. However, they do rank 18th in the nation in sacks, and make critical stops with the game on the line.

Oklahoma State also leads the nation in the most important category – turnover ratio. The Cowboys average 2.38 takeaways per game, a half turnover better than next best team – which happens to be No.1 LSU.

With a high-octane offense, and an opportune defense, Oklahoma State definitely has the tools and the talent to play the SEC Champion for the national championship.

Will this happen?

Based on what we have seen after eight games, the answer is a resounding yes.