When the Cowboys take the field on Saturday, their opponent in front of them isn’t the only thing Mike Gundy should be mindful of. Oklahoma State heads into Saturday ranked #6 in the nation in the AP Poll and will play a rollercoaster Texas team that is inconsistent at best. Winning will certainly be at the top of the list for the players and coaches in Stillwater, but they should also think about the scoreboard on Saturday..
If Texas is at their best and challenges the Cowboys on FOX, then the Cowboys must show the nation they belong with the likes of Alabama and Clemson in the college football playoff debate. If the Longhorns underperform and the Cowboys have a chance to finish Tom Herman’s team in the third quarter, they should take that opportunity and run it up. After some tense moments in recent years among the two teams (Hager’s late cheapshot when OSU was kneeling out the clock in 2018) I don’t doubt for a second that Tylan Wallace & Chuba Hubbard will take some joy in trying to push it into the fifties on the scoreboard.
Looking across the country in college football, style points matter; especially in this weird 2020 season where anything can happen. Ohio State opened their season by routing Nebraska in the second half and scored a touchdown leading by 28 with less than 30 seconds remaining. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day apologized after the game for scoring, but especially in this season I believe everyone should throw caution to the wind and run it up given the chance (in moderation; if you’re up by 67 you can stop scoring, Clemson.) Wisconsin had their game canceled this weekend due to COVID-19 cases flaring up on the team; all but ending the slim hopes the Badgers had to make it in the CFB Playoff. If Ohio State for example gets a game canceled, the committee might look at how they won their games along with if they are still undefeated.
The biggest news of the week came down on Thursday when Clemson announced Heisman frontrunner Trevor Lawrence contracted the coronavirus and will have to self-isolate for 10 days. As of this moment, it’s unsure if Lawrence will see the field when the Tigers take on #4 Notre Dame in exactly 8 days. This could be a nightmare situation for Oklahoma State fans; if Notre Dame defeats Clemson on Nov. 7, then they meet again in the ACC Championship game in December but Clemson wins that game, what will the committee look at? Should Oklahoma State have one loss and be a Big 12 champion, they could be the one left sitting out while both of the two ACC schools get picked to attend the big dance. The most important thing Cowboy fans (and any Big 12 fans) should be rooting for is a sweep when those two teams play. If Notre Dame wins the first matchup, they have to win the second game too, and vice versa.
This takes me back to the original point of what the Cowboys will be fighting for on Saturday. A 21 point win over Texas will look much better than a 3 point victory. While winning is surely the most important thing, coloring inside the lines and making it look like a work of art can go a long way to shaping (or reshaping) the opinions of the Big 12 nationally. Right now, the boys in the desert have the Cowboys favored by 3.5 over Texas. Personally, I handicapped this as more of an 8-9 point spread game. This just tells me that the experts aren’t convinced that OSU can outscore Texas and finish them off like they failed to do against Iowa State.
Perception matters; and for the Cowboys they can really stamp themselves as a legitimate contender with an explosive showing on Halloween. As of now, the Cowboys will most likely have three games remaining against ranked teams; Kansas State, Oklahoma and the Big 12 Championship game. If the Cowboys can win all of those, the resume will compare well with the likes of Clemson and Alabama. Alabama and Clemson don’t let the second-tier teams in their conference hang around in marquee games. The Cowboys have a chance to prove who the top dog in the Big 12 race is, the only question is will they take that opportunity? Take me way back to 2013 for my prediction: Oklahoma State 38-13 Texas.
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