Editor’s note: This is the sixth article in a continuing series of early preseason previews looking at the good news and the bad news surrounding all 10 Big 12 teams heading into the 2014 season.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
2013 season record: 10-3, 7-2 in the Big 12, tied for 2nd with three teams
Oklahoma State has been one of the most successful programs in college football over the last five seasons. The Cowboys have won 50 games over that time span, an average of 9.8 wins per season. The Cowboys have a new starter at quarterback in 2014, but he is only new because he did not end last season as the starter at the position. Junior J.W. Walsh has quite a bit of game experience at the position, and actually was No. 1 on the depth chart to begin last season. Also back for another year is Desmond Roland at running back. The senior Roland had a stellar 2014 campaign, gaining over 800 yards rushing, most of that at the tail end 0f the season. Having those two guys back at key positions on the offense is a major plus for a team that has to replace six starters on offense.
Head coach Mike Gundy has overcome challenges before in his 10 years at the helm of his alma mater, but this may be his most difficult challenge yet. Oklahoma State loses 28 seniors from last season’s second-place team in the final conference standings. In addition, the Cowboys are missing seven starters on defense, where the biggest question mark exists. To underscore the uncertainty that lies ahead for Gundy and his defensive brain trusts: Oklahoma State ranked second in the conference in 2014 in the fewest yards allowed per play. Six of the seven departed players on defense were All-Big 12 performers.
The Cowboys won’t have much time to get some much-needed game experience for the new starters, because right out of the gate they open the season against the defending national champions, Florida State. If that isn’t enough bad news, how about having to play road games at Baylor, at Kansas State, at TCU and end the regular season at prohibitive conference favorite Oklahoma.