Last November, Oklahoma State was in the midst of a five game losing streak.
Then something happened. A win over OU in Norman to end the season and make the Cowboys bowl eligible would help push the Pokes toward 2015 with more momentum than they could’ve ever imagined.
OSU came into the year with that same momentum, but it wasn’t being recognized in all circles, some having the Cowboys as a Big 12 dark horse, others thinking they’d fall into that fourth spot in a conference with powerful offenses.
The ones expecting them to finish behind the three-headed monster that is OU, Baylor and TCU looked to be spot on after the first few weeks of the season. In the Cowboys nonconference, Rudolph and Co., did not look impressive, though they were 3-0.
Wins over Central Michigan, Central Arkansas and UTSA were quite boring but saw gradual improvement, as the passing offense got off its feet a bit while the rushing attack continued to struggle.
The struggles on the ground would continue, despite all the hype that running back Chris Carson had brought with him to Stillwater from his JUCO days. The Cowboys would fall back in four of its first five conference games, only handedly beating Kansas.
However, heading into November 7, the Cowboys were one of the few undefeated teams at 8-0 and would play host to TCU.
No one expected this. Not after a poor seven-win season that could’ve easily been five. Especially when the Cowboys had a rushing game that was nearly impossible to get started.
They were though and there’s something to be said of the coaching job. After dropping their last two, there may be a lot to look at with a disappointing smirk.
But then again, at 10-2, there’s a lot to look at with an approving grin.
Starting 10-0 for only the second time in school history is no small feat, especially when the team doesn’t have a single rusher in the top 10 of the Big 12 in yards and the school that won the conference had two.
On the defensive side, it’s looked better. The Cowboys allowed an average of 18.8 points per game through the Kansas game.
Following that game, the schedule became harder and allowed 43.2 in the remaining five games.
Things went wrong toward the end. Endurance seemed to be a problem, along with a major injury to quarterback Mason Rudolph who eventually needed surgery. But OSU still has J.W. Walsh, who helped this team get to where it is now, in case Rudolph cannot suit up for the bowl game.
Mix that with more than 15 of the 22 starters returning next year, OSU will for sure be in the mix once again for the Big 12 and possibly even a college football playoff push.
To do so, they’ll need to find a way to fix an offensive line that has been flaccid, a running back who can push through the wholes and potentially replace a first round defensive end, but this team overachieved this year.
In one year, OSU went from making Bedlam a must-win to make a bowl to making it the unofficial Big 12 Championship game.
The season wasn’t a disappointment, it was an exciting ride that will end with the possibility of a pretty big bowl and 2016 could be even more exciting.