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10 Thoughts On Central Michigan’s 30-27 Win Over Oklahoma State

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BOX SCORE

For 11 a.m. games I normally knock out the 10 Thoughts by 3:30 or so. It’s 9:22, and I’m just now getting started. Quite a day today, eh? Oklahoma State lost to Central Michigan after I was pretty sure it had beaten Central Michigan. I’m not the only one either. But it’s officially a loss and Oklahoma State is officially 1-1 and I officially have about 100 thoughts. It’s getting late though so let’s start with 10.

1. Mason Stunk

I’ll say it. It’s fine. I’ve come to grips with it. Mason Rudolph was not good on Saturday. That does not change my feeling on him overall — I still think he’s an elite college QB — but this will be a black mark on his legacy. His Weeden vs. Troy except he actually lost this one.

On a day when he could have launched himself into the “best QB in the conference” conversation in a real way, he laid an absolute egg.

From the overthrows to the lazy fade in the end zone that led to the INT, the entire thing was pretty brutal to watch. For somebody who has been incredibly clutch his entire career, it was strange to watch him perform so poorly. His performance was a microcosm though. The entire day was just … off. OSU literally stumbled out of the gate, and it never got better from there.

Zero long-term concerns with No. 2 for me, but I bet he wishes he could have this one back.

2. Why Did OSU Go Away From the Running Game?

You know it was a bizarre day when everyone who was actually watching the game was clamoring for OSU to … run the ball on every play. The middle of the field was open a lot. Chris Carson and Justice Hill were running pretty well, and it was clear Rudolph did not have the goods. So why go away from it?

Nobody really had any answers in the postgame.

OSU’s running backs ran it 17 times for 69 yards, and Mike & Mike just refused to hit them in the second half. The bright spot on the day is that it looked like we might actually have some semblance of a running game at some point this season. Justice Hill can go.

I’m not saying they were elite today, but at least you could envision a world in which 4.0 yards per carry was the rule and not the exception.

3. I don’t know what to think about the defense

If the first two points weren’t weird enough, you know it was strange day when Ramon Richards played out of his mind for the majority of the game. No. 7 was all over the place accumulating eight tackles and a pick I *thought* sealed the deal.

So he was good. Jordan Sterns was great per the usual. The defensive line is really deep and pretty good. But the middle of the field was wide open for most of the game.

Cooper Manning Rush (more on him in a minute) diced us up like he was trying out for America’s Next Top Chef (if that’s even a show)! I have really bad news for everyone: There are a lot of Cooper Manning Rushes left on the schedule. This is why OSU’s offense being really good is so important to this season. The defense sort of just is what it is. It’s never going to be Alabama or even Ole Miss. It’s just going to give up 25-30 against average teams and 35-45 against good ones. You have an elite QB — go outscore teams.

4. Why Is Jalen McCleskey Percy Harvin?

OSU rode McCleskey like he was Bullet on Saturday (TM Carson Cunningham). He only had 12 total touches at WR/RB, but with all the drops and bad throws, it felt like they went to him 35 times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive Jalen McCleskey fan. I think he’s really good with a chance to be great, but why are you riding him like he’s Justin Blackmon in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl on Game 2 of his sophomore year? Especially with your deep stockpile of weapons.

Where was Barry J? Where was Jhajuan Seales? Why did Chris Lacy only start getting touches when the chips were down? The whole thing was very odd from an offensive strategy standpoint.

5. Does OSU miss J.W.?

Ah, here we go. So the good news is Mason will be fine (if you don’t believe that, you have to trust me and if you don’t trust me then I can’t help you). The bad news, is OSU’s red zone offense might stink again. Think about this. Mike Gundy went to a true freshman in the wildcat on the two yard line on 4th down while trailing with the season in the balance late in the fourth quarter on Saturday.

A true freshman in the wildcat!

With the season on the line!

I did not undervalue what The General brought to the table in Stillwater. He was reliable and terrific in short yardage situations. He knew what he was doing, and he did it well. I simply thought Rudolph could do everything Walsh did if not more. But OSU had three big drives stall out late deep inside CMU territory. One at the end of the third when they had to settle for a field goal. And two more in the 4th when Rudolph threw the pick and Stoner flipped it to The President.

That’s definitely something to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

6. Mike Yurcich is better than he showed today

OSU was really good on offense last year. Let’s not forget about that. Did he have a bad game today? The only person who had a worse game than him is the referee who had to tell Berry Tramel that he blew it at the end of the game. Does that define his career as an offensive coordinator? No, no it does not.

I saw he was getting eviscerated on Twitter tonight. I’m not really a Yurcich Truther, but I think he’s a good OC who had a poor showing. I think he would tell you the same thing. I think Gundy would tell you the same thing. I’m interested to see what he takes from today and applies to next week against a legitimate defense in Pitt. Hopefully it’s more than a few screens to Percy McCleskey and 237 variations of the fade route to The President.

7. It’s hard to remember a more tense hour (in a loss) in the last two years

From when Central Michigan took the lead at 9:40 left in the 4th quarter until the debacle at the end, it was tense. All three of last year’s losses were routs so they were easily dismissed. I went from “Gundy and Mason got this” to quivering underneath my shed desk and firing off flaming GIF in Slack faster than McCleskey can run a 40.

Then the end. It was all so surreal. I was trying to piece together a tweet about how at the end of this week OSU would still be 2-0 and OU would still be 1-1, but I couldn’t land it which in retrospect is good because that’s when the madness started unfolding. My first thought was “oh, whatever, they get an untimed down from their own 40.” My next thought was, “if we go out like this … ” My next thought was, “CENTRAL MICHIGAN DID THIS IN A REAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME ONE TIME!”

The rest of my thoughts are not for print.

8. OSU handled everything really well

Gundy said this after the game, but everyone was pretty composed given what actually happened on the field. I would have been running in my compression shorts down to Joe’s and just raiding the place if I had played a significant role in that game, but everybody on the team and all the coaches handled it all with aplomb. Not to get all “that’s a win for the program”-y on you, but I think that says a lot about the program. That will go down as the most devastating loss of the non-conference season in 2016, and Gundy stood up there and took every question and handled them all well.

“I think the shock wore off because of the replay,” said Gundy. “They’re upset. They were really better than what you would think. Hopefully we have our players trained where they know that unfortunately things happen, and we have to recover. Disappointed yeah, but not really shocked. Pretty squared away and pretty mature for the situation that just happened.”

9. What does it mean for the year?

Certainly this changes some expectations for the rest of the season. It’s funny how the context through you see the rest of the games changes with a win vs. a loss. If OSU wins today it’s still that team that just gets it done when it matters. Mason is the QB with the 14-3 record as a starter, and the defense is just opportunistic. Now all of a sudden with a loss that Pitt-Baylor-Texas stretch is looking a lot less fun than it was a week ago.

The Big 12 is not lost though, and Big 12 races still mean something despite what the people who run the CFP marketing for ESPN would have you believe. Can OSU be competitive in the Big 12 title race? Sure it can. Can it still win nine games and go to a terrific bowl. Absolutely. CMU is not a joke. Should you beat them at home and roll on to Pitt? Yes, you should. But off days happen, and bad games unfold.

What has changed is that the floor for this team has been lowered. Coming into today, I thought the floor was probably nine wins. Maybe eight. But probably nine. Now the floor is seven, and that could change again next week.

10. Here is some Perspective

I visited my daughter’s grave this morning for the first time since December 20 (if you haven’t read that story, you can do so here). Today’s game was wild and stupid and silly and infuriating. All of the sports emotions we all crave when we consume these games … but it really doesn’t mean all that much in the end. That’s easy to say after you’ve just lost to Central Michigan, but I was reminded of it in a much bigger way early this morning as a cold front tried to slide in after the foggy rain that fell over the DFW Metroplex where I live.

I wiped a lot of water off that headstone today. I’m not sure how much of it was from the clouds.

This blog has never really been about sports.

I read that the other day on the DC Sports Bog. That resonates with me. This blog isn’t really about Oklahoma State football and basketball. It’s about that a lot of times, but it’s not really about that. That might not land right now. It might not make much sense. And it might not be the proper time to state it. But I thought about it a lot today. And I always write about the things I think about a lot on here.

Thank you guys for reading.

On to the next one.