No. 9 – The Oklahoma State Cowboys finish number 9 in our poll. After finishing 2016 with a 10-3 record and a questionable loss to Central Michigan, the Cowboys come into 2017 with lofty expectations. Mike Gundy signed a big new extension, and the experience on this offense looks to be one of the strongest in the Big 12. They wrapped up recruiting with the 4th best group in the conference.
The Cowboys are the only team in college football to return a 4,000 yard passer, a 1,000 rusher and a 1,000 yard receiver.
This team goes as James Washington goes, and Washington is making his name known in the potential Heisman winner category. He finished the 2016 campaign with 71 receptions, 1400 yards and 10 touchdowns. In Oklahoma State’s third game against Pitt, Washington tore it up, catching 9 balls for 300 yards. It isn’t all about Washington though. This WR core for the Cowboys is going to torch the Big 12. Alongside him on the outside will be Jalen McCleskey, who led the team with 73 receptions.
With those two catching passes, Mason Rudolph will also put himself in Heisman watch, and will look to improve on a stellar 2016 campaign. Rudolph looked like a star for the Cowboys last season, and with all of his weapons returning, teams need to be watching Mason all season.
The offense will score a lot of points this season, but the defense will have to step up and give the offense some breathing room. The team lost three of its top 5 tacklers, and returns just one starter on the d-line. Linebacker Chad Whitener is the returning tackle leader with 71. Whitener was a 2nd team All-Big 12 last season, and will be the play caller for the defense. The secondary is retunring their star corners last season, Tre Flowers and Ramon Richards. The duo combined for 120 tackles and were a problem for opposing wideouts all season. Richards snagged three interceptions.
Some key games for the Cowboys this season:
Sep. 16 – Oklahoma State @ Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, PA
Oct. 21- Oklahoma State @ Texas – Austin, TX
Nov. 4 – Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma- Stillwater, OK