Instant Analysis: Oklahoma St 21, Miss St 3
J.W. Walsh
J.W. Walsh
Posted Aug 31, 2013

CFN's writers and analysts react to an early-season confrontation between the Big 12 and the SEC.

By Russ Mitchell
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With apologies to Mr. Dickens, it was a Game of Two Halves down in Houston.

Mississippi State entered with grave concerns about its secondary, having been virtually gutted by graduation and the NFL. Facing what is expected to be one of the more dominant pass offenses in the nation, many an eye was focused in this direction.

30 minutes in and State had stymied the Cowboys to a scant 45 yards of passing. A tremendous achievement for Geoff Collins and crew.

And still the Bulldogs trailed by four, 7-3. Then the flood gates opened….

OSU's J.W. Walsh replaced Clint Chelf and finished 18/27 for 135 yards, but more importantly, 125 yards on just 13 carries, with a touchdown. Things unraveled completely for State when Tyler Russell went down with concussion-like symptoms after taking a knee to the head midway through the third quarter. To say his replacement, Dak Prescott, struggled is to say Hannah Montana's not on Disney anymore.

7/17 for 89 yards with an interception isn't going to cut it, Dak. Not that his line or senior tailback LaDarius Perkins helped. Much was expected out of the senior Perkins this season, who finished with just 50 yards on 16 carries.

There will be much hand wringing in Starkville tomorrow, and there should be. After such a complete defensive performance in the first half, cracks appeared that were not filled. For State to have any chance of a decent season in 2013, those cracks will have to be addressed quickly.

E-mail Rich Cirminiello
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Oklahoma State brought its D to Houston, and that ought to concern the rest of the Big 12 Conference.

The Cowboys were tough at the point of attack and physical throughout the opener, performing as if they, not Mississippi State, were the SEC squad at Reliant Stadium. Sure, OSU will face much scarier attacks down the road than the Bulldogs, which lost QB Tyler Russell in the second half. But the fact that the Pokes darn near pitched a shutout, winning with defense on a day that the offense was uncharacteristically impotent, goes down as an enormous development for Mike Gundy & Co.

The offense will get there in time. It always will as long as Gundy is gainfully employed in Stillwater. What Oklahoma State learned today is that scoring 40 points may not be a prerequisite for victories for a change. Coordinator Glenn Spencer's D won the line of scrimmage, swarmed to the ball and was suffocating in coverage. Once quarterbacks J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf locate their rhythm as passers, the Cowboys are going to be a very tough assignment for the Big 12's other nine members.

By Matt Zemek
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Postgame analysis, like life, often involves a considerable degree of complexity. Not on Saturday afternoon in Houston, however.

Oklahoma State's win over Mississippi State was as simple as the fact that the Cowboys found a quarterback as the game progressed, while the Bulldogs learned that their (now-injured) quarterback is not any better than he was a season ago.

When Mississippi State last took to the gridiron, quarterback Tyler Russell threw one interception after another, displaying subpar instincts against Northwestern in the Gator Bowl. In this game, Russell threw one interception and almost suffered two other picks as well, one in the Oklahoma State red zone and one that might have gone for a pick-six had it been caught. There's no question that Mississippi State should not be expected to win 10 games a season. It's hard to win on a large scale in Starkville. Yet, Dan Mullen's calling card – when he was such a hot commodity in the coaching marketplace – was his ability to call plays and create a productive offense. He's not doing anything of the sort right now.

On the other hand, Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State is actually delivering the goods when it comes to cultivating quarterbacks on a regular basis. He tried Clint Chelf to start this game against Mississippi State, and didn't like what he saw. No problem – he turned to J.W. Walsh, and after some halftime instruction, Walsh performed with great confidence and competence. That was the difference in this game, and one need not offer a more complicated explanation.

By Phil Harrison
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Last year the Bulldogs feasted on stale dog food all the way to the midpoint of the year and became everyone's favorite paper tiger. This year, they played a real, live football team and couldn't measure up. Not even close.

And what happened to the laser-light show we expected from Mike Gundy's crew? Generally, there are some certainties in the universe; death, taxes, and an Oklahoma State quarterback cashing in air miles. Not this time. Dropped into an SEC game, and outside of the Big 12 conference where defense comes as an optional package, the Cowboys showed that they could be SEC physical on both sides of the ball. The defense thwarted Mississippi State most of the day, while Mike Gundy clearly believed that ... he's a man and he can run it forty times -- with mainly the QB.

Sometimes a team doesn't find its identity until necessity dictates it, and that appears to be what happened today when the OSU coaching staff inserted J W Walsh to spark the offense. What ensued was more than a boy-scout fire-starting tutorial as Walsh ran for over 100 yards and passed for another 135 on the way to an impressive debut.

This could be the end of the quarterback race in Stillwater as we know it. Ironically, that race appears to be on foot rather than through the air.

By Terry Johnson
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After watching today's action, it's clear that Oklahoma State will contend for national championship. While beating Mississippi State isn't the same as defeating Alabama, the Cowboys' performance over the final three quarters demonstrated that they have what it takes to win a crystal football this season.

Make no mistake about it: the 'Pokes will finish in the Top 10 in total offense this fall. Sure, it struggled out of the gate, but once JW Walsh took over under center, the offense moved the ball at will against an overmatched ‘Dawg defense. His skills as a runner give the OSU offense a completely different dimension, and will force future opponents to limit their coverages to defend the read option. That will open things up for a passing game that features one of the deepest receiving corps in the nation.

Although the offense will capture the headlines from today's game, it's the OSU defense that stole the show today. Glenn Spencer's aggressive style paid immediate dividends as the Cowboy front seven dominated the entire contest. Mississippi State's veteran offensive line looked lost for most of the afternoon, allowing four quarterback sacks after finishing second in the SEC in fewest sacks allowed in 2012.

In other words, OSU won today's game by running the ball effectively, and playing outstanding defense.

Call me crazy, but that sounds a lot like an SEC team. That conference knows a thing or two about winning a national championship.