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Grades: Between O-Line, BPS Atmosphere, There’s Little Worry After OSU’s Win against Kansas

On the O-line, defense and BPS atmosphere.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

I had parent-teacher conferences this past week, and when a parent of a student who’s doing well in my class shows up, there’s honestly not much to say. I can obviously give the student praise and also reassure the parent that if everything stays the same, they shouldn’t have anything to worry about the rest of the year.

That’s essentially how I feel after Oklahoma State’s 39-32 win over No. 23 Kansas on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium. Obviously it wasn’t a perfect performance — there were still too many field-goal attempts and big plays given up — but no team is perfect. Some students just aren’t straight-A students. And OSU is not a straight-A team — it’s not a national championship caliber team. In fact, with two losses already, it’s too late for that possibility no matter what’s ahead.

But I can reassure you that if things continue to go how they did Saturday night, and even last week against Kansas State, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about the rest of the season. If the Cowboys play like they did Saturday night the rest of the way, they could win five of their last six games (loss in Bedlam), putting them at 9-3 with a bowl game ahead to get to 10 wins.

Two weeks ago we didn’t think a bowl appearance was possible, which means that team could return at any moment, but I really do think that’s of college football’s past now. I expect a middle school student to sometimes not feel like studying for a test and bomb it, though, no matter what kind of student they are. So there’s obviously a possibility of OSU slipping in one or more of those games it’s favored in, just like there’s also the possibility that the Cowboys upset a top five OU team in Bedlam.

But if what we saw Saturday night from the Cowboys continues, they’ll be just fine.

Here are the grades from OSU’s win over Kansas.

Offensive Line: A

Maybe I’m grading this on a curve a little bit, but no group (other than the coaching staff) within the OSU program has had more negative reports about them than the offensive linemen. So now the big guys deserve some praise after Saturday’s performance.

Ollie Gordon was phenomenal in the game, and I know it’s basically custom for a running back to credit his linemen after big games. But Gordon did exactly that (plus his QB) after the game, and the guys blocking for him earned that shoutout.

The OSU O-line paved the way for 218 rushing yards (168 from Gordon) and 5.7 yards a carry against KU. The Jayhawks entered the game allowing 151.7 rushing yards a game.

In the passing game, Alan Bowman was sacked only once and hurried twice. And it’s not like Bowman was scrambling around to escape pressure. His only carry on the stat sheet was that lone sack, and he’s not exactly Houdini back there.

I’m as guilty as the next guy pointing to better play calling and more carries for Gordon as reasons for this offense’s recent improvement, but the truth is, the offensive line reaching a new level is why the offense has too.

Defense: B-

Every week this is the hardest grade for me to decide on.

I use C as average, and I feel like the clutch-ness of OSU’s defense and Bryan Nardo’s second-half adjustments puts it above average. But I also know this Cowboy defense still has some major issues, which Marshall even wrote about in his 10 Thoughts.

The defense won the game Saturday, giving the offense three straight chances to take the lead with great field position. OSU’s defense forced a turnover on four straight possessions from late in the third through the fourth — INT, INT, downs, downs. The turnover run ended because the game did. The fourth quarter alone deserved bonus points.

But the game was also a shootout, in large part to OSU giving up big plays and nearly letting KU score at will in the first half.

This defense is still a work in progress in need of some more tutoring, but when it really matters, I’ll bet on Nardo’s guys every time.

Boone Pickens Stadium Atmosphere: A+

This one is for Mike Gundy.

Gundy said after the game that the atmosphere at Boone Pickens Stadium right now is “better now than it ever has been since I came here in 1986.” That’s a guy who’s been on that field hearing crowds cheer for Barry, Rudolph to Washington and Bedlam victories that secured Big 12 titles.

But there must be some truth to it. OSU has sold out every home game so far this season and the rest of the way, even after starting the season 2-2. And after returning home from Iowa State at 2-2, the Cowboys have looked rejuvenated in front of their own fans and seemingly turned things around with back-to-back dubs.

So tip of the hat, Cowboy faithful.

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