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It’s Oklahoma State’s time to live up to the hype

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Oklahoma State

Well Oklahoma State fans, it’s finally almost here!  A week from today the Pokes take on Tulsa in Stillwater.  After an offseason full of hype the world is about to see if its all for real.  I for one am ready.

Ready for it to be over, ready for the season to finally be here.

After hitting a low with the disappointing showing in Bedlam Oklahoma State fans didn’t have to wait long for a reason to start being hopeful for the near future.  And the reasons just kept coming.

Mason Rudolph and James Washington announced together before the Alamo Bowl they’d be returning for their senior seasons.  The fans rejoiced!

The team then handled a very good Colorado team in impressive fashion.  The whispers started.

Aaron Cochran and Adrian Baker transfer in from Cal and Clemson respectively to shore up the most glaring needs on the team.  Eyebrows raised.

And those were just the beginning.  News of freshmen sensation running back Justice Hill adding 20lbs of muscle for his sophomore year along with a video of him squatting 565lbs surfaced.  Bob Stoops retired making Mike Gundy the face of the conference and he spent the summer strutting around catching rattlesnakes with his mullet flowing.  Relaxed Gundy is confident Gundy.  Confident Gundy is usually a good sign.  By the time Big 12 Media Days rolled around the Oklahoma State hype train had gained full speed.

Punters for Heisman, awards watch lists, pundits picking State for the playoffs, Gundy jetting to ESPN for a day and being a star.  I could go on with how the national media got on board building up the wide receiver corp as the best in the nation and labeling the Pokes as a playoff contender, but you’ll all already heard all of it.

It seems like since the end of the 2016 regular season its been nothing but good news for Pokes that has slowly fanned an ember of hope into a full fledged wild fire of expectations.  And that slow build up of love for the Cowboys has been exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong I love that the team is getting some love from outside the state but it’s very easy to get caught up in the noise and forget the serious questions that need answered: is the offensive line any better?  Can the young cornerbacks play well enough in the pass happy Big 12?  Can the defensive-line-by-committee plan work while lacking a true star in the trenches?

We as fans need to see something to convince our brains of what our hearts believe to be true. Hearts listen to the hype, but the brain always doubts.  The brain remembers the Central Michigans, the Iowa States, the Troys.  That’s why I’m ready for the season to actually kick off.  The answers only come by watching the players actually PLAY.

Tulsa may the perfect opponent to get the brain and the heart on the same page. The game should help to answer a few of those pressing questions. The Golden Hurricane’s version of the Baylor spread should test the cornerbacks plenty and give ample opportunities for the defensive line to pressure a QB if they can.  And the Oklahoma State offensive line should be able to push around a defensive line from a Group of Five school.

How the team plays in that game will set the tone for the rest of the season.  Tulsa is well coached and will come to play so the Cowboys better be ready. Hopefully the wound from the Central Michigan last year game is still fresh enough that the players are focused, but more importantly Gundy and company need to be loose.

Gundy gets the ol’ coach paranoia going during games his team should win easily.  The CMU debacle is a great example.  They gutted the playbook in favor of keeping things off the film the future “serious” opponents look at and ended up getting beat by a gritty team with a senior quarterback who is playing well in the NFL preseason with the Dallas Cowboys right now.  Sure the final play never should have happened but really the Chippewas shouldn’t have been within three touchdowns at the end of the game.

Tulsa routed that same Central Michigan team a their bowl game last year, by the way.

Gundy needs to let his team put the hammer down from the beginning this season.  He needs to score 70 against TU if he can.  And again against South Alabama the next week.  It’s in his best interest for the offense to feel invincible by the time it rolls into Pittsburg to play the Panthers in week three.  Let Yurcich call any play he wants.  Rudolph needs to be overflowing with confidence.  Washington and his army of receiver friends need to KNOW they are uncoverable.  Justice Hill and newly named number two running back true freshmen J.D King need to feel like linebackers are just a small inconvenience on their way to the end zone.

You see, this team is so similar to the 2011 team its a little weird.  And that version won by crushing the other team under an unstoppable onslaught of offense.  The defense played its part by forcing turnovers but a lot of that was helped by the opponents need to score.  To keep up they had to force things, and an offense forcing things leads to turnovers.  And this years’ offense is better on paper than that one.

Gundy rarely lets Yurcich be aggressive but when he does it’s spectacular.  Last years Alamo Bowl, the second half of Texas Tech in 2015, and the Baylor game of 2013 are great examples.  And that’s the offense we need to see all year if this team is going to live up to the expectations that have been building for the last few months.

Oklahoma State fans are used to disappointment.  There always seems to be a game we should’ve won but didn’t.  In the last six years we’ve been a missed kick away from the national title game.  A dropped interception or a puzzling game plan away from another Big 12 title.   A game here, a game there, always right on the cusp but never delivering.

And all of those heartbreaks and disappointment have been without much preseason hype, without the build up beforehand.  All of it has come during the season, where our brains can keep our hearts in check instead of letting them run wild.

And that’s why I say its been exhausting.  Because with every little piece of news and propaganda that came out this off season my heart swelled but my brain has gone “yeah, but…”

You see the heart forgets, but the brain? The brain remembers.

And that’s why we need to see it.  We need to see the boys in orange flying around.  We need highlights to watch instead of projections to read.  Instead of hoping need to KNOW.

And we will soon.

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