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2007 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Collegefootballnews.com
Posted Dec 31, 2007


2007 Oklahoma State Cowboys Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2007 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Recap: More than seven wins were expected this season from Oklahoma State, who became best known for head coach Mike Gundy’s unhinged rant to the press following a win over Texas Tech.  The Cowboys scored plenty behind a balanced offense, but it often wasn’t enough to compensate for a defense that couldn’t stop the pass or get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  Gundy hit a homerun in September by handing the offense over to sophomore QB Zac Robinson, an exciting dual-threat that set the single-season school record for total offense and rushing yards by a quarterback.              

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Zac Robinson

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Nathan Peterson

Biggest Surprise: Robinson.  A backup to Bobby Reid to start the season, Robinson grew into a franchise quarterback by the end of it.  Showing all of his moves in the Insight Bowl, the sophomore gashed Indiana for 372 total yards and five touchdowns in an unexpectedly easy 49-33 rout of the Hoosiers.   

Biggest Disappointment: The Cowboys had Texas dead to rights on Nov. 3, but inexplicably allowed the ‘Horns to engineer one of the biggest comebacks of the season.  Trailing by three touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter, Texas scored 24 unanswered points behind an epic performance from RB Jamaal Charles, winning on a Ryan Bailey field goal as time expired.

Looking Ahead: If Oklahoma State can solve a few problems on defense, look out, Big 12 South.  The offense will be downright scary, with stars-of-tomorrow RB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant getting expanded roles alongside Robinson.

- 2007 OSU Preview
-
2006 OSU Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
9-3
2007 Record: 7-
6

Sept. 1 at Georgia L 35-14
Sept. 8 Florida Atlantic W 42-6
Sept. 14 at Troy L 41-23
Sept. 22 Texas Tech W 49-45
Sept. 29 Sam Houston St W 39-3
Oct. 6 at Texas A&M L 24-23
Oct. 13 at Nebraska W 45-14
Oct. 20
Kansas State W 41-39
Nov. 3 Texas L 38-35
Nov. 10 Kansas L 43-28
Nov. 17 at Baylor W 52-17
Nov. 24 at Oklahoma L 49-17
Insight Bowl
Dec. 31 Indiana W 49-33

Dec. 31
2007 Insight Bowl
Oklahoma State 49 ... Indiana 33

Indiana got up 3-0 on a 43-yard Austin Starr field goal on its opening drive of the game, and then it was all Oklahoma State as Dantrell Savage ran for a three-yard score and Zac Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more as the Cowboys took a 35-10 lead into halftime. Indiana mounted a little bit of a comeback in the second half with Kellen Lewis and Josiah Sears each running for short touchdowns and James Bailey catching a 30-yard touchdown pass with one second to play, but it was way too little, too late. Dez Bryant caught touchdown passes from 24 and 11 yards out for OSU, and Robinson finished with 372 yards of total offense and accounted for five scores. The two teams combined for 20 penalties for 183 yards.
Offensive Player of the Game: Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson completed 24 of 34 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran 15 times for 70 yards and two scores
Defensive Player of the Game: Oklahoma State SS Andre Sexton made ten tackles and a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 24-34, 302 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Dantrell Savage, 23-100, 1 TD. Receiving: Dez Bryant, 9-117, 2 TD
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 22-43, 204 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Kellen Lewis, 10-83, 1 TD. Receiving: James Hardy, 5-50
Thoughts & Notes ... Oklahoma State couldn't be going into the offseason on a higher note. After an uneven and inconsistent season, all the parts were working against Indiana with 211 rushing yards and 302 through the air in an offensive explosion that many thought would happen game in and game out. Make no mistake about it; this is Zac Robinson's offense now. The attack revolved around him more and more as the season wore on, and he showed against the Hoosiers that he could be a potential superstar. ... Indiana got whipped on the lines. Early on, Kellen Lewis appeared to be more worried about the OSU defensive front than he was about making plays, and the Hoosier line that was so great at getting into the backfield throughout the year did absolutely nothing to disrupt the OSU offense despite making seven tackles for loss. ... IU's number one priority this offseason has to be getting more of a running game. Lewis can't do it all on his own. Marcus Thigpen is productive when he gets the ball, but he's not a workhorse who'll carry it 25 times a game. ... Building on this is a must for Oklahoma State. Indiana might not be a juggernaut, but getting a win like this sets the bar that much higher for a program with a T. Boone Pickens and his mighty expectations (and checkbook) putting the pressure on.

Nov. 24
Oklahoma 49 ... Oklahoma State 17
Oklahoma roared out to a 14-0 lead on an Allen Patrick touchdown catch from 11 yards out and a five-yard run, and after a 16-yard Dantrell Savage run to pull the Cowboys within seven at the end of the first quarter, Chris Brown tore off a three-yard scoring run and Sam Bradford and Joe Jon Finley hooked up for the first of two touchdowns. The Sooners pulled away in the final 17 minutes with a 21 unanswered points on Patrick's third score of the day and two Bradford touchdown passes.
Player of the game: Oklahoma RB Allen Patrick ran 29 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a pass for an 11-yard score
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma - Passing: Sam Bradford, 11-15, 150 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Allen Patrick, 29-202, 2 TD. Receiving: Joe Jon Finley, 3-38, 2 TD
Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 8-20, 105 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Dantrell Savage, 19-108 yds, 1 TD. Receiving: Dez Bryant, 5-69

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Oklahoma was frothing at the mouth and there wasn't anything OSU could do about it. Zac Robinson wasn't accurate, and while he was able to run a bit, it wasn't nearly enough to make up for the problems on defense. There weren't nearly enough stops when the Sooners were powering the ball, and wasn't nearly enough pressure on Sam Bradford to disrupt his rhythm. After losing three of the final four games of the regular season, OSU had better pull off a win in the bowl game or this will go from being a disappointing season to something more.

Nov. 17
Oklahoma State 52 ... Washington State 17
OSU ran for 352 yards but it was Zac Robinson who did a little of everything with two touchdown passes and scoring runs from 18 and four yards out. Dantrell Savage scored from four and two yards out to turn things into a blowout in the second half. Baylor got within 14 with the second of two Thomas White touchdown catches, but the offense couldn't get going after halftime. Nathan Peterson came up with three sacks for the Cowboys.

Player of the game: Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson completed 16 of 21 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 17 times for 144 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 16-21, 202 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Zac Robinson, 17-144, 2 TD. Receiving: Seth Newton, 4-62, 1 TD
Baylor - Passing: Blake Szymanski, 29-40, 226 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Brandon Whitaker, 11-79. Receiving: Thomas White, 9-68, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
For all the controversy and hubbub around Bobby Reid, Zac Robinson has turned into a whale of a player and the type of quarterback the program thought it was getting Reid. Robinson was nearly flawless against Baylor, while Dantrell Savage wasn't bed either with 109 yards and two late scores. OSU got pressure in the backfield, ran well, and won easily. Now the hope is to be just as effective against Oklahoma to ruin its Big 12 South dream.

Nov. 10
Kansas 43 ... Oklahoma State 28
Kansas appeared to be on its way to an easy win with a 33-14 lead midway through the third quarter on a 12-yard Brandon McAnderson run, but Oklahoma State came back on a 39-yard Tommy Devereaux touchdown catch and a three-yard Zac Robinson scoring run. And then the Jayhawk offense took over, going 89 yards in 11 plays with Marcus Henry catching his third touchdown pass of the game, Henry torched the Cowboys with scores from five and four yards out, and an 82-yard play that took control of the game. Along with his touchdown run, Robinson threw two scoring passes.
Player of the game: Kansas WR Marcus Henry caught eight passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 27-40, 308 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Brandon McAnderson, 25-142, 2 TD. Receiving: Marcus Henry, 8-199, 3 TD
Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 22-37, 276 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Dantrell Savage, 18-106. Receiving:
Dez Bryant, 8-155, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... OSU did the best it could do against Kansas considering it lost top WR Adarius Bowman early on to a knee injury, and didn't get anything out of Brandon Pettigrew. Dez Bryant had a great game and Dantrell Savage put up a strangely quiet 106 yards, but the defense couldn't come up with a big stop late when the O grabbed all the momentum. While this is a talented, explosive team, if it lets down against Baylor next week and gets shocked, bowl eligibility will be all but gone. It's going to take something special defensively for the Cowboys to win at Oklahoma.

Nov. 3
Texas 38 ... Oklahoma State 35
Oklahoma State took a 35-14 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to two touchdown passes from Zac Robinson, who also ran for a seven-yard score, a four-yard Dantrell Savage run, and a 39-yard Jacob Lacey interception return for a score. And then Jamaal Charles struck. A week after tearing apart Nebraska in the fourth quarter, Charles scored on touchdown dashes from 18 and 75 yards out in the final frame, Vondrell McGee tied it with a one-yard run, and with no time left on the clock, Ryan Bailey nailed a 40-yard field goal to break OSU's heart. The Longhorns ran for 307 yards on the day on the way to 589 yards of total offense. Oklahoma State cranked out 594 yards of offense.
Player of the game: Texas RB Jamaal Charles ran 16 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns, and caught three passes for 29 yards
Stat Leaders: Texas - Passing: Colt McCoy, 20-27, 282 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Jamaal Charles, 16-180, 3 TD. Receiving: Jermichael Finley, 6-79, 1 TD
Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 30-42, 430 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Dantrell Savage, 23-103, 1 TD. Receiving:
Brandon Pettigrew, 8-87, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...  What kind of a psychologist does Oklahoma State had to go see after all the problems against Texas? Yet again, the Cowboys had the Longhorns beaten with a big early lead, and then a big late fourth quarter lead, and still blew it. This game was a microcosm of the OSU program. It's good enough to beat anyone, yet can also lose to anyone, any time. If nothing else, Zac Robinson once again established himself as a playmaker the offense can build around with a tremendous passing performance. This might have been a bad loss, but a win over Kansas to ruin the Jayhawk dream season would change that in a hurry.

Oct. 20
Oklahoma State 41 ... Kansas State 39
In a wild game with 1,039 yards of total offense, a career-high 404 yards passing from KSU's Josh Freeman, and 329 rushing yards from Oklahoma State, it came down to a 26-yard Jason Ricks field goal with two seconds to play to give OSU  the win. Kansas State had scored on an 11-yard Leon Patton touchdown run with just over a minute to go, but rather than go for the extra point and the tie, KSU went for two, got it on a Jordy Nelson catch, and forced the Cowboys to go for the win. Nelson was unstoppable with touchdown catches from 17, 46 and 11 yards out, but the Oklahoma State running game was just as on. It took a Perrish Cox 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown after the 46-yard Nelson score to spark a run of 17 OSU points, but the Wildcats hung in drive for drive. OSU QB Zac Robinson threw three touchdown passes and ran for 109 yards.
Player of the game: In a losing cause, Kansas State WR Jordy Nelson caught 12 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught a two-point conversion
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 11-25, 181 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Dantrell Savage, 28-124, 1 TD. Receiving: Adarius Bowman, 6-81
Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 36-51, 404 yds, 3 TD
Rushing:
Leon Patton, 9-62, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson,
12-176, 3 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Oklahoma State certainly doesn't play any boring games. The running game has gone ballistic over the last two weeks, and while Zac Robinson has contributed to it, he's also had the pressure taken off. The passing attack hasn't been needed as much. The South is still there for the taking, but to beat Texas and Kansas at home over the next few weeks, the defense has to be more consistent. If hot, those two offenses will match up punch for punch with OSU, while their run defenses are good enough to force Robinson to start chucking more.

Oct. 13
Oklahoma State 45 ... Nebraska 14
Oklahoma State scored on its first six possessions, with Zac Robinson hitting Seth Newton for a 41-yard touchdown pass, and running for a three-yard score, and Julius Crosslin running for two one-yard touchdowns, on the way to a 38-0 halftime lead. The Huskers didn't get on the board until the first play of the fourth quarter on a 13-yard J.B. Phillips touchdown catch, but didn't get back on the board until the final minute on a one-yard Thomas Lawson catch. OSU ran for 317 yards and gained 551 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Oklahoma State RB Dantrell Savage ran 24 times for 212 yards and a touchdown, and caught a pass for ten yards
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 12-19, 234 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Dantrell Savage, 25-212, 1 TD. Receiving: Adarius Bowman, 6-100
Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 10-18, 129 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Quentin Castille, 20-102. Receiving: Terrence Nunn, 4-24
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Welcome to Oklahoma State football. The team will be good enough to blast Nebraska on the road one week, and will lose to a Texas A&M or Troy another week. The running game got steamrolling, with Dantrell Savage coming up with an All-Big 12 caliber performance, while the defense didn't let the Huskers get any sort of positive momentum in the first half to stop the destruction. Now it's about consistency for the Cowboys. Nebraska might be struggling, but if OSU is good enough to win like this, then it's good enough to beat Kansas State and Texas at home over the next two weeks. However, the running game won't be able to rumble so easily.

Oct. 6
Texas A&M 24 ... Oklahoma State 23
Jorvorskie Lane ran for two, one-yard scores and caught a ten-yard touchdown pass as A&M rallied from a 17-0 deficit for the win. OSU got up on Adarius Bowman touchdown catches from 29 and 47 yards out in the second quarter, but could only manage three Jason Ricks field goals the rest of the way. Ricks' 25-yard boot came with 3:11 to play, and OSU would never get it back. The defense came up with the stop and forced a punt, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave it back to A&M, and Lane ran out the clock.
Player of the game: Texas A&M RB Jorvorskie Lane ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, and caught four balls for 35 yards and another score.
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 10-17, 158 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Dantrell Savage, 21-110. Receiving: Adarius Bowman, 7-142, 2 TDs
Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 11-20, 169 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Jorvorskie Lane, 19-77, 2 TDs. Receiving: Kerry Franks, 4-120
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... OSU supposedly had it set up perfectly, getting a nice lead on the road against Texas A&M, and then the running game was supposed to take over. A&M isn't a team built for comebacks, but the Cowboys couldn't stop the second half momentum, and when it did come up with the big stop late to get the ball back with a shot at driving for the win, a roughing penalty screwed it all up. This one's going to hurt. Dantrell Savage ran well, Adrian Moore looked like someone to potentially build the offense around, and Bobby Reid played well in his limited time. Now the Cowboys have to gear it back up for a winnable game at Nebraska to stay live in the Big 12 race.

Sept. 29
Oklahoma State 39 ... Sam Houston State 3
The Cowboys coasted, scoring on their opening drive of the game with Adarius Bowman coming up with a 29-yard touchdown catch. Following a 29-yard Taylor Wilkins field goal, OSU scored 32 unanswered points, highlighted by a 49-yard Perrish Cox punt return for a score and an 18-yard Dantrell Savage scoring play off a Zac Robinson pass. OSU ended up outgaining SHSU 584 yards to 355.
Player of the game: Oklahoma State WR Adarius Bowman caught eight passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 19-28, 279 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Dantrell Savage, 15-115. Receiving: Adarius Bowman, 8-141, 1 TD
Sam Houston State - Passing: Rhett Bomar, 22-49, 270 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Rhett Bomar, 13-33. Receiving: Catron Houston, 7-78
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After all the craziness of this last week, how could Bobby Reid not get more work? Zac Robinson threw two pick, but he had a nice game, while the ground attack dominated with close to 300 yards against Sam Houston State. This wasn't the sharpest all-around performance, with three turnovers and ten penalties, but it was a good, easy win after a week of adversity. Now things get interesting with trips to Texas A&M and Nebraska ahead. If the run defense plays like it has over the last few weeks, OSU has a shot to make some big noise before a nice homestand.

Sept. 22
Oklahoma State 49 ... Texas Tech 45
In one of the wildest games of the year, Texas Tech threw for 646 yards, Oklahoma State ran for 366, but it was through the air that the Cowboys pulled off the win, as Brandon Pettigrew hauled in a 54-yard touchdown catch with 1:37 to play for a four-point lead. But Graham Harrell and the Texas Tech passing game wouldn't be done, getting down to the OSU 15 before finally sputtering out on a fourth down incomplete pass. Each team score 21 second quarter points, with Michael Crabtree catching two of his three touchdown passes, both from two yards out, on the way to a Red Raider lead, while OSU kept pace with a 46-yard Kendall Hunter touchdown run and a 48-yard Zac Robinson dash. Tech got 14 catches for 237 yards and three touchdowns from Crabtree, and 14 catches for 233 yards and a score from Danny Amendola. Three different players ran for over 100 yards for OSU.
Player of the game: In a losing cause, Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell threw for 646 yards and five touchdown passes on 46-of-67 passing.
Stat Leaders: Texas Tech - Passing: Graham Harrell, 46-67, 646 yds, 5 TDs
Rushing: Shannon Woods, 12-58, 1 TD. Receiving: Michael Crabtree, 14-237, 3 TDs
Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 16-32, 211 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing:
Dantrell Savage, 25-130, 1 TD. Receiving: Adarius Bowman, 6-81

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The OSU defense struggled yet again, but Texas Tech is going to go for a bazillion yards (actually, it was 718) against just about everyone. The running game finally got on track to be the explosive, effective home run hitting threat it's supposed to be, with QB Zac Robinson looking incredibly strong both running and passing in place of Bobby Reid. To come up with the game-winning drive, and the game-winning touchdown pass he did, showed that he might be the one to lead the offense for the foreseeable future. Now the defense has to come up with a big performance against Sam Houston State next week before going on the road to face Texas A&M and Nebraska..

Sept. 14
Troy 41 ... Oklahoma State 23
Bad weather delayed the start of the game, but a little rain didn't slow down Troy in the first half as it jumped out to a stunning 27-10 lead on a touchdown run and throw from Omar Haugabook, a 17-yard scoring play from WR Gary Banks to Mykeal Terry, and a 54-yard Leodis McKelvin punt return for a score. The Trojans stayed hot out of the locker room with two short touchdown runs from Haugabook and Sean Dawkins, while the OSU offense sputtered with missed passes, penalties, and poor play on third downs. Julius Crosslin ran for two short fourth quarter scores for the Cowboys.
Player of the game: Troy QB Omar Haugabook completed 33 of 48 passes for 371 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and ran 13 times for 49 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Troy
- Passing: Omar Haugabook, 33-48, 371 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kenny Cattouse, 12-62. Receiving: Gary Banks, 5.66
Oklahoma State
- Passing: Zac Robinson, 27-37, 191 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Zac Robinson, 9-61. Receiving: Dez Bryant, 3-67
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The second-guessing will quickly begin in Stillwater about why the coaching staff messed with the quarterback situation after an easy win, but the blowout loss to Troy can't be pinned just on the early offensive futility. No, this was on the defense that has the speed and athleticism to run with anyone, but never appeared to be in the right position and failed miserably to throw QB Omar Haugabook off his rhythm. The focus this week will likely be on the offense (and the 11 penalties for 102 yards), but the defense had better do a lot of work over the next eight days or Texas Tech will go ballistic. OSU has to remember that this loss, as ugly and embarrassing as it might be, doesn't really matter if it wins its Big 12 opener.

Sept. 8
Oklahoma State 42 ... Florida Atlantic 6
Andre Sexton set the tone for Oklahoma State with a 14-yard interception return for a score on the first play from scrimmage, and then Adarius Bowman and Kendall Hunter blew the game wide open with Bowman catching touchdown passes from seven and 77 yards out and Hunter taking a pass 47 yards for a score and adding a late 33-yard touchdown run. Florida Atlantic managed just 203 yards of total offense and two Warley Leroy field goals.
Player of the game ... Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson completed 14 of 20 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns with an interception
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 14-20, 250 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Chris Offor, 10-77  Receiving: Adarius Bowman, 6-135, 2 TD
Florida Atlantic - Passing: Rusty Smith, 14-22, 125 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Jeff Blanchard, 8-12  Receiving:
Rob Housler, 3-44
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Apparently, there's no real quarterback controversy after Bobby Reid got dinged up early against Florida Atlantic and Zac Robinson came in and played a great game, but there's a quarterback controversy. Reid only completed two of five passes against the Owls, while Robinson completed 14 of 20 throws. Granted, WR Adarius Bowman made Robinson look great, but the door is now open if Reid starts to struggle. This was a good chance for several reserve runners to get in, but it would've been nice to have seen the ground game go off and dominate. Even so, 233 yards and two touchdowns is nothing to get upset about.

Sept. 1
Georgia 35 ... Oklahoma State 14
Georgia's offense was balanced an efficient as Thomas Brown ran for two first half scores and Matthew Stafford threw for two second half scores on the way to a surprisingly easy win. Oklahoma State's offense struggled to get consistently going, but it was able to tie it at seven early on a 20-yard Adarius Bowman touchdown catch and pulled within seven at the end of the first half on a five-yard Dantrell Savage run. And then the Dawgs took over, not allowing any second half points while Stafford calmly kept the offense moving.
Player of the game ... Georgia QB Matthew Stafford finished 18-of-24 for 234 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State- Passing: Bobby Reid, 16-30, 191 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Dantrell Savage, 10-55  Receiving: Brandon Pettigrew, 7-85
Georgia - Passing: Matthew Stafford, 18-24, 234 yds, 2 TDs
Rushing:
Knowshon Moreno, 20-70  Receiving: Sean Bailey, 5-87

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
It was almost as if the offense was waiting to connect on the big play over and over again against Georgia, and failed to come up with the consistent play. The Cowboys needed to keep the chains moving, but Bobby Reid struggled when he absolutely had to have a big throw to change the momentum. The offense couldn't keep the defense off the field, and the defense couldn't get the offense back on, as the Dawgs held the ball for almost 23 minutes in the second half. Fortunately, breathers against Florida Atlantic and Troy over the next few weeks should help get the offense moving. The running game can't be held to just 70 yards again.

Sept. 1 – at Georgia
Offense: The offense was a disaster at times throughout an inconsistent season, but that was to be expected with a true freshman at quarterback, at times, injury problems at running back, and the team's best receiver out. Now, sophomore QB Matthew Stafford appears on the verge of being the superstar he's supposed to be, Thomas Brown is expected to be back at some point to help out the running game, after missing the second half of last year with a knee injury, and Sean Bailey should be the number one target now that he's back from his knee injury. The offense, at least early on, will revolve around big Kregg Lumpkin and the running game, but the line needs to produce as well as it did this spring. A mega-concern going into the off-season, now the front five appears to be a strength.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez has his work cut out for him. After losing star corner Paul Oliver to academic ineligibility, the defense is woefully short on sure-thing veteran stars with only three returning starters. There's plenty of potential, speed, and athleticism, but several things have to happen for this to be nearly as good as the number eight defense it was last year. The pass rush should be there in time, but it might take the wheels of outside linebackers Darius Dewberry and Dannell Ellerbe to generate some consistent pressure early on. The secondary needs to unearth more big play options, and a number one corner has to quickly emerge. While undersized, the line is tough and should grow into a rock as the year goes on. This will be a far, far better defense after a few games. By then the coaching staff will have the right combination.

Sept. 8 - Florida Atlantic
Offense: Things should be more consistent now that the quarterback situation is settled (at least to start the year) with Rusty Smith the full-time starter and Sean Clayton the backup. The running backs are experienced and quick, and Frantz Simeon leads a decent receiving corps, but it's all up to the line which was decent in pass protection last season but awful in the running game. It's a small front five by design, and that's a major issue for a ground game that averaged just 110 yards per game and an offense that struggled to amass 300 yards and 15 points per outing. 
Defense: The defense should be tremendous is all the starters play as expected. The back seven will be among the best in the Sun Belt with all three starters returning to the linebacking corps, two All-Sun Belt caliber safeties in Kris Bartels and Taheem Acevedo, and a shut-down corner in Corey Small. The defensive front gets three starters back led by top pass rusher Josh Pinnick and star tackle Jervonte Jackson. Even so, the run defense will be average, while the pass defense will be great.


Sept. 15 – at Troy
Offense: Spread it out with four wide receivers, let Sun Belt Player of the Year Omar Haugabook throw to the open guy, hope it all works. This isn't an explosive attack, and it won't be for a while with a mixed bag of talents on the front line trying to fit the puzzle. The running backs are fine with the return of Sean Dawkins helping out Kenny Cattouse, and Gary Banks and Mykeal Terry lead an inexperienced receiving corps that'll be fine. But it's all up to Haugabook. He's the difference between a second straight Sun Belt title and a losing season.
Defense:
Troy won the Sun Belt title despite a mediocre year from the defense. Now the D will be positively dominant with the best secondary and a defensive line that's either the best, or a close second behind Middle Tennessee's. Generating pressure won't be a problem with phenomenal pass rushers from every spot, while the secondary will use five and six defensive backs at times just to get all its talent on the field. The linebacking corps is the weakness of the defense by default considering how good the line and secondary will be, but it'll still be fantastic with Boris Lee and Marcus Richardson each deserving all-star consideration.


Sept. 22 - Texas Tech
Offense: On the surface, there might appear to be a world of problems. The quarterback situation is allegedly up for grabs, the star running back practiced like he was too secure and got booted to third string, almost all the top receivers are gone, and four starters have to be replaced on the line. Don't shed too many tears. Graham Harrell had a great spring and will be the staring quarterback once again, Shannon Woods will get back in everyone's good graces this fall and be a top back, and Michael Crabtree might be the best receiver the program has had in several years. Of course, it all goes kaput if the line doesn't come together quickly, but Mike Leach and his coaching staff have dealt with worse. There might be question marks, but there's also a whole bunch of talented prospects. This will be one of the nation's five best passing offenses once again, but it might not be consistent.
Defense: This D will be a major part in several shootouts, and not in a good way. The secondary will be the strength, and it's not even close, with a pair of all-star safeties in Darcel McBath and Joe Garcia, along with star corner Chris Parker. The front seven is a major problem, especially the defensive line, with no depth and only one starter returning. The linebacking corps isn't all that big, but it's fast and should be good in time. Expect good running teams to be able to rumble at will.

Sept. 29 – Sam Houston State

Oct. 6 – at Texas A&M
Offense: Run, run, and run some more. The Aggies finished last year eighth in the nation in rushing, and now the line should be even better with four legitimate All-Big 12 candidates paving the way for the devastating rushing tandem of Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson. QB Stephen McGee was better than anyone could've hoped for last year taking over for Reggie McNeal, and while he might not throw only two interceptions again, he'll be one of the league's best all-around quarterbacks. The tight end tandem of Martellus Bennett and Joey Thomas would get all the conference attention if it wasn't for Missouri's tremendous pair, but the receivers are suspect and could be the Achilles heel if there Earvin Taylor doesn't have a huge season.
Defense: First of all, realize what amazing strides the defense made under defensive coordinator Gary Darnell. The pass defense was the worst in the nation in 2005 and became more than just respectable last season in a 4-2-5 alignment that led to a solid year until the Holiday Bowl meltdown against Cal. There wasn't enough of a pass rush outside of Chris Harrington, but that could change if tackle Red Bryant is healthy again and occupies two blockers on the inside. There aren't any all-stars in the back seven, but it's a good, sound group that will do just enough to get by.


Oct. 13 – at Nebraska
Offense: From possibly losing star receiver Maurice Purify for being a knucklehead off the field, to losing leading rusher Brandon Jackson to the NFL, promising runner Kenny Wilson to a broken leg while moving a TV, and starting guard Matt Huff to a blown out Achilles (though he might be back), it's been a rough off-season for the offense. Even with all the problems, the offense will roll if, and it's a screaming if, the once-promising tackle prospects come through and the starting 11 stays healthy. Top back Marlon Lucky can't be counted on for a full season, while backup Cody Glenn is already hobbling with a foot problem. There's no one of note behind them. The line had to do some shuffling after a variety of injuries, meaning the ground game could struggle at times. Fortunately, former Arizona State mad bomber Sam Keller is at the helm with a speedy, veteran receiving corps to work with. Don't be shocked if the attack becomes one-dimensional at some point this year. That might not be a bad thing.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is about throwing different looks at offenses over the last few years, and while he loses all four starters off a great front four, he has more talent and depth to work with. The strength is in the linebacking corps, where Bo Ruud, Corey McKeon, Steve Octavien and Lance Brandenburgh will control the defense. There's speed to burn in the secondary, but the defensive backs haven't played up to their potential or athleticism over the last few years. This will be one of the Big 12's better defenses, but it still might not be close to the killer of some of the great Husker teams of the past.

Oct. 20 - Kansas State
Offense: Call this another stepping stone season. The offensive line is ridiculously deep, but without much appreciable talent. The receiving corps has a slew of good prospects coming in, and four good tight ends, but can only count on deep threat Jordy Nelson to deliver. The 1-2 rushing punch of Leon Patton and James Johnson is scary-good, but there's absolutely no one behind them. And then there's the quarterback situation, which was a plus going into last year with several good players in a battle, but now is Josh Freeman and no safety net. Freeman has the talent to be a superstar, but hasn't been remotely consistent. When he's not on, it's over. It's not all doom and gloom. There's a ton of athleticism, and Freeman, Patton, Johnson and Nelson will have games when they're unstoppable, just not enough of them.
Defense: Raheem Morris lasted one year as defensive coordinator before moving on to the NFL. Tim Tibesar will take over and put in a 3-4 scheme, which might, at times, appear to be more of a 4-3 with star Ian Campbell playing outside linebacker and the occasional end. There's a ton of overall experience and depth, even with just six returning starters, with the strength to likely be in the secondary, where safety Marcus Watts leads a veteran cast. While the D likely won't be sixth in the nation in sacks and 18th in tackles for loss, there will be plenty of big plays made in the backfield with all the speed and athleticism across the positions. The overall net result should be better than last year, when KSU gave up 346 yards and 24 points per game.

Nov. 3 - Texas
Offense: This might be the best offense yet under head coach Mack Brown, with one bump in the road: the line. The starting five will be fine, but there's absolutely no depth at tackle. While that's the concern, the skill players will be fantastic with a deep, talented receiving corps that welcomes back the top four targets, Jamaal Charles and a speedy backfield, and Colt McCoy to lead the show. Now a seasoned veteran, McCoy will run more than last year while making more plays on the move. Expect plenty of scoring, plenty of explosiveness, and a top five finish in total offense ... as long as the line holds up.
Defense: Duane Akina goes from co-defensive coordinator to the head man in charge, and there will be changes. Last year's defense was all about stopping the run, and the talented secondary got torched. This year's D will focus on doing everything, with an eye towards being more aggressive and generating more pressure. The strength is at tackle and in the linebacking corps, with NFL caliber talent that should keep the Longhorns among the nation's leaders against the run. The ends will be fine, in time, and they'll get to pin their ears back and go to the quarterback. All the pressure should help out a secondary in transition, with only one starter returning from a group that loses Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross and All-American Michael Griffin.

Nov. 10 - Kansas
Offense: After spending last year running the ball, new offensive coordinator Ed Warinner will try to stretch the field more with a big, experienced group of receivers. The big question will be who the quarterback will be throwing to them. Sophomores Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing are talented, mobile passers who can do a little of everything well, but they'll be in a battle for the starting job up until the opener. The other big question mark is at running back, where Jon Cornish and his 1,457 yards and eight scores will be replaced by Jake Sharp (fast) and Brandon McAnderson (powerful). The line is nothing special, but the tackles are experienced and solid.
Defense:
The defense had to go through a little bit of a rebuilding phase last season, and while the overall results weren't terrific, and too many yards were allowed, it wasn't as bad as it might have appeared. The secondary gave up more yards than anyone in America, but it gets Aqib Talib back at corner to go along with an upgrade in speed at the other three spots. The linebacking corps, by design, is small on the outside with a slew of safety-sized defenders designed to fly to the ball. They have to hold up better when they're getting pounded on. James McClinton is a star at tackle who should set the tone for the front seven.

Nov. 17 – at Baylor
Offense: After making the change to a Texas Tech-like passing attack, the Bears threw well, but did absolutely nothing for the running game, finishing dead last in the nation averaging just 40.17 yards per game. There will be more emphasis on running the ball, but this will still be a passing attack. First, BU has to find someone to throw, and someone to catch. It'll be a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job, with former Kent State Golden Flash Michael Machen the leader in the race, while the two star receivers of last season are gone. Several young players have to turn into reliable targets, while Brandon Whitaker has to try to provide some semblance of a rushing attack behind a line that should be a bit better.
Defense:
Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. Baylor didn't come up with any last year, and it affected the entire defense. With only 11 sacks and 51 tackles for loss, BU let opposing quarterbacks spend all day to throw, and the secondary struggled. Worse yet, the run defense was awful. Now, there's hope for improvement in the 4-2-5 alignment with promising tackles in Vincent Rhodes and Trey Bryant, along with tackling machine Joe Pawelek at linebacker. The secondary has more raw talent than last year, but not a lot of experience, so it'll be up to veteran ends Jason Lamb and Geoff Nelson to finally produce some sort of pressure on the quarterback.

Nov. 24 – at Oklahoma
Offense: If a quarterback comes through and shines, this could be the nation's most effective offense. If the offensive line isn't the best in college football, it's number two, the running backs are very fast and very talented, and the receiving corps, led by top pro prospect Malcolm Kelly, is very big and very fast. It all comes down to the quarterback battle between junior Joey Halzle and redshirt freshman Sam Bradford. Whichever one can be steady will get the plum gig with a chance to lead the loaded attack in a national title chase.
Defense: It'll be an interesting defense that has the potential to be a killer, but has some major concerns. The secondary should be among the best in America with enough size, speed, and talent to keep the NFL scouts buzzing. DeMarcus Granger is a rising superstar tackle who should combine with Gerald McCoy, Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman to stuff up everything on the inside. If the unknown ends come though with a halfway decent season, and the untested linebacking corps is nearly as good as last year's, look out.

 

    


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