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Barber: Five Predictions for the 2017 Football Season



If you’re like me, your thoughts about the 2017 Oklahoma State Cowboys change daily. I have thought at times this summer that OSU will surely reach the College Football Playoff. I’ve thought at times this summer that the Cowboys will lose to West Virginia.

This team is tough to pin down, mostly because of the inexperience in the defensive secondary. There are some things I feel fairly confident about though. Here are five (probably in order of confidence):

1. Kenneth Edison-McGruder Will Lead the Team in Tackles

This guy is just too talented not to.

Edison-McGruder played safety last season and the year before that but has moved to linebacker following Ramon Richards’ transition to the back end of the secondary.

He was second among the backups in total tackles last year at 40. Only Justin Phillips had more, and he finished with 42.

The move closer to the line of scrimmage should (hopefully) mean Edison-McGruder is closer to every play, and with his versatility, there is no reason he can’t lead this team in that department.

2. The Kicking Game Will be All Right, not Great

Coach Mike Gundy has been careful to give praise to his place kickers this fall. Matt Ammendola has been streaky at best, and he will probably be the starter.

Those two have to replace the top scorer in OSU history, so it will be miraculous to match that production. Still, even to expect “good, not great,” feels a little steep right now.

3. As Many as 8 Players Will Play Significantly at Cornerback

Last year, only Ashton Lampkin, Richards, Lenzy Pipkins and Darius Curry played meaningful minutes.

It is extremely reasonable to expect Madre Harper to get time at nickel corner throughout Big 12 play. Scary or not, that’s the reality of the corner situation. Other corners to expect include sophomore A.J. Green, redshirt freshman Rodarius Williams, graduate transfer Adrian Baker and freshman Lamarcus Morton.

Heck, even Chad Whitener threw out the name Bryce Brown and added that “Y’all probably don’t know about him.” Yeah … we don’t.

I still lean toward Richards and Curry moving back to corner some this year, too, because of the inexperience.

4. At Least One Receiver Will Not Get His Due

It might be an obvious choice like Dillon Stoner or Tylan Wallace, but it’s completely possible for at least one of Marcell Ateman, Chris Lacy and Tyron Johnson to not catch 35 balls this year.

Last season, with little depth at receiver, only three guys caught more than 35, and two of them are on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. Jhajuan Seales was the other at 37. Chris Lacy finished with 31.

I don’t think it will matter too much to the receivers how many passes they snag so much as how many games they win. To me, Ateman gets 30, Lacy gets a couple fewer and Johnson gets a few fewer than that.

James Washington and Jalen McCleskey combined for more than 140 catches last season, and it’s hard to imagine either of them gets less than 50 this year.

Mason just needs to throw two balls.

5. OSU Will (Barely) be Left Out of the College Football Playoff

Alabama will make it. Ohio State will probably be there, too. If USC pulls it together, they can definitely make it, so that leaves the Big 12 and ACC.

In my eyes, either Florida State or Clemson will be about even with OSU at season’s end. So it’s the eye test again, and referring to 2014, that just won’t end well. I think the Cowboys will be extremely hard to stop on the field, but fairly easy to say “No” to in the selection committee’s boardroom. Most of that has nothing to do with the team, unfortunately.

Two of the three years the CFP has been around, the Big 12 has been left out, and the only year it was represented, Oklahoma was the No. 4 seed against top-seeded Clemson.

Maybe the Big 12 Championship Game will help, but what if it doesn’t? Every other Power Five conference has a championship game, too. It gets harder to choose, but which would you go with: The conference that hasn’t won a national title since Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy or the one that just did a year ago?

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