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Grades: Not a Good Report from OSU’s Streak-Ending Loss to UCF, but There’s Still a Tomorrow

On the future, Ollie’s Heisman chances and Bowman



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

I have no witty comparison for what we witnessed Saturday when Oklahoma State’s five-game winning streak was smashed with a 45-3 loss to a now 5-5 UCF team in Orlando.

This time last week nothing could go wrong. The Pokes beat Bedlam rival OU, fans stormed the field and it was immediate relief knowing that game would no longer have to be an annual endurance.

Then OSU traveled to Orlando, which Cowboy fans would now argue is certainly not the “Most Magical Place on Earth.” There was no Disney storyline. Only what seemed to be science fiction because it’s not realistic for a team with Big 12 title hopes and a Heisman candidate to be shut down by a team that just got its first ever Big 12 win while OSU was beating then-No. 9 OU.

So as we process what happened, here are grades from OSU’s streak-snapping loss.

OSU’s Big 12 Championship Game Chances: C+

Believe it or not, there’s still a tomorrow, and there’s still something for OSU to play for in that tomorrow.

As ugly as the loss was and as much as it’ll send the Cowboys plummeting in national rankings, it actually didn’t hurt much in Big 12 standings. OSU certainly isn’t sitting as comfortably as it was, but the Cowboys are still in second and in the car on the way to Arlington.

First, the Cowboys have to beat Houston and BYU the next two weeks. If OSU has another performance like Saturday, then none of the following matters.

Second, Iowa State needs to lose at least one more game. The Cyclones are the only fellow two-loss conference team that has the head-to-head tiebreaker over OSU. The others are Kansas State, OU and West Virginia (OU and WVU are playing as I write this). The Pokes beat all of them during their five-game winning streak.

Fortunately for OSU, ISU might have the toughest remaining schedule in the Big 12. A late game in Provo against BYU certainly won’t be easy at 9:15 p.m. Saturday. Then it’s No. 7 Texas at home and on the road against No. 25 Kansas State for the Cyclones.

However, there’s the case of Texas being the only team to beat ISU, while the Longhorns also lose somewhere else. If OU were to win out, that would create a three-way tie between OSU, OU and Texas. It’d be a confusing mess without a head-to-head matchup between OSU and Texas, but the Cowboys could wind up with the short end of the stick in that scenario.

If you’d like to avoid chaos, though, outside of cheering for OSU, hope for Texas winning out. Tough, I know. OU losing another and ISU dropping two more would sure things up.

Ollie Gordon’s Heisman Hopes: D

As a running back with a late start, the reality is Gordon already was a longshot to win college football’s most prestigious quarterback, I mean, player award. Gordon needed to put up monster numbers these last three games to have a chance. Pat McAfee mentioned numbers like 250 yards in every game when he praised Gordon and his Heisman chances on ESPN on Saturday morning.

But, against UCF, Gordon rushed for only 25 yards on 12 carries, averaging 2.1 an attempt. The performance ended Gordon’s streak of six games with at least 120 rushing yards.

This was really Gordon’s first lackluster performance since actually getting the chance to take over. But when voters analyze things, I think they’ll still glimpse at those first three games when Gordon wasn’t getting carries, even though it wasn’t his fault.

I’m not saying Gordon’s Heisman campaign should end because I have the utmost faith in that player and no telling what he’ll do the next two weeks, but Saturday was definitely a setback for a guy already trying to win a mostly quarterback award as a running back.

Alan Bowman: C-

I typed so many words earlier this week praising Alan Bowman and his game-management skills, but Saturday was just not his day. But Bowman was also asked to do a lot more than just manage the game against UCF.

I know many read that grade and instinctively mumbled “Should be an F,” but there should be some sort of curve because of environment and situation. I’m not here to just make excuses, but the rain was coming down so much in Orlando that at times you couldn’t even watch the game from home because of all the raindrops on the camera lens. And by the time the rain had started pouring, OSU was already down 17-0 and had to rely on Bowman slinging it without a run game.

Also credit the UCF defenders for some really good plays, too, getting their hands on passes to tip the ball up and make those turnovers possible.

Bowman did throw balls into tight coverage, but there was also a point when the game was still in hand that Bowman was the only guy keeping OSU in it. He finished 19-of-36 for 225 yards and three interceptions. Outside of three turnovers, those numbers from Bowman were good enough for the Cowboys to win in all of his other starts.

However, UCF did convert Bowman’s interceptions into a field goal and a touchdown. Considering two were thrown deep into UCF territory, though, you could argue those interceptions influenced a 24-point swing if OSU missed out on touchdowns of its own there.

Bowman may not have been exceptional Saturday, but he certainly didn’t fail.

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