STILLWATER – In an up-and-down season with scrutiny littered throughout, Taylor Cornelius was named an honorable mention All-Big 12 quarterback Wednesday.
The redshirt senior Oklahoma State quarterback hasn’t exactly shined in his 12 games, but to earn the accolade when playing in the same league as Kyler Murray and Will Grier shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Cornelius’ best performances have come in OSU’s biggest games: against top-10 Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia teams. His worst have come against a few teams that didn’t make bowl games, like Texas Tech and Kansas State.
His job wasn’t easy, either. After backing up Mason Rudolph for three seasons, Cornelius had to come in and replace OSU’s winningest quarterback. Cornelius had to find a way to replicate the success of Rudolph, who owns more than 50 school records.
He has had the backing of coach Mike Gundy since fall camps, and the former walk-on from Bushland, Texas, has performed stronger as he has gotten more experience under his belt.
Yet this season’s Cowboy team is 6-6, barely earning a bowl bid while garnering a losing record in conference play for the first time since 2014, the year Rudolph’s redshirt was pulled after five straight losses.
The last time OSU won less than seven games was Gundy’s first season in 2005. The Cowboys have won at least seven in every season since. They’ll need a victory in their bowl game to continue the streak.
Gundy has been adamant about Cornelius’ improvement throughout the season, saying if he had another season, he could be in line for a breakout year. I was interested to see how Cornelius’ lone season as a starter compared to his predecessors first season starting in 2015. Here’s a look at the numbers:
Rudolph 13; Cornelius 12 (bowl game will make it 13)
Rudolph 12 (J.W. Walsh started Bedlam); Cornelius 12 (Will be 13)
Note*: Rudolph played limited snaps against OU because of a foot injury.
Rudolph: 264-of-424 (62.3 percent), 3,770 yards, 21 TDs, 9 INTs, 149.1 rating; Cornelius: 262-of-441 (59.4 percent), 3,637 yards, 28 TDS, 11 INTs, 144.8 rating
Rudolph: 67 attempts, -35 yards, 1 TD, 2 fumbles lost; Cornelius: 110 attempts, 385 yards, 10 TDs, 1 fumble lost
Rudolph: 1 rec, 7 yards; Cornelius: 2 rec, 27 yards
Rudolph: 3,742 total yards, 22 TDS, 11 total turnovers; Cornelius: 4,049 yards, 38 TDs, 12 turnovers
Rudolph 10-3 (Loss in Sugar Bowl to Ole Miss); Cornelius 6-6 (Bowl game pending)
Rudolph: 49-29 vs No. 5 TCU; Cornelius: 38-35 vs No. 6 Texas/45-41 vs No. 6 West Virginia
For all the flak Cornelius receives from OSU fans, he hasn’t had a poor statistical season. OSU’s two worst games offensively (K-State, TCU) were his two worst, so there is correlation there. Although he hasn’t been spectacular as Rudolph was last season, Cornelius has fared well, especially when compared to Rudolph’s first as a starter.
Cornelius’ honorable mention All-Big 12 selection was deserved. He didn’t have quite the arm Rudolph did, but his knack for making plays with his feet helped him and OSU’s offense sustain drive and score points. In most categories, Cornelius takes the mustard over Rudolph.
He has another game to add to those numbers, too.