Overrated/Underrated: Justin Phillips and Lincoln Riley

Written by Kyle Porter

We are back at it this week with an abridged version of overrated/underrated. First up, let’s start with one of the stars from Friday night’s game.

Justin Phillips

I went all in on Phillips after he tackled everybody but David Boren in his freshman year Bedlam game, which Oklahoma State won in Norman. Then he sat out a year and had an average to above-average season in 2016. I cooled on him a bit as I didn’t see a through line from Freshman Year Phillips to this year. Clearly that was a poor decision, as he’s been spectacular thus far, and Oklahoma State might need even more out of him with the 9th president (Kenneth Edison-McGruder) and Calvin Bundage out for at least part of the Pitt game.

Everyone will point to the pick-6 on Friday against USA, but to me it’s hits like this that make him so valuable to Glenn Spencer’s defense.

Verdict: Underrated

Lincoln Riley

One of the things I was most critical of coming into this season regarding the transfer of power from Bob Stoops to Lincoln Riley was Riley retaining play-calling duties. I thought it was such a Mike Gundy circa 2006 move and necessarily precludes you from being CEO of your organization.

I, um, might have been wrong.

He took it to Urban Meyer all night, and OU’s offense, without any big-name players not named after sections of the grocery store, thrived against one of the better defenses in the Big 10. The jury is still out (because let’s give him more than two games), but it appears that Lincoln Riley can call plays and coach at the same time.

Verdict: Underrated

Middle of the road Non-Conference Games

I understand why Oklahoma State and other teams play them, but that doesn’t mean I like them. Here’s what I would like to see: Two bad games (like OSU) has played and one great one. Basically what OU did this season. Tulane, UTEP and Ohio State — that’s perfect.

If you’re Oklahoma State and you play Pitt, it’s sort of a no-win situation. If you win, congrats, you beat a not-that-great ACC team. If you lose, you could legitimately be knocked out of the CFB Playoff chatter (if you’re Oklahoma State). Now let’s say you play Penn State instead. All of a sudden a win there could launch you up into the top three in the polls (like it did with OU), and a loss doesn’t keep you from winning your conference or (feasibly) still getting into the Playoff.

It’s a risk, for sure (see: 2016, OU), but I think it’s one worth taking given how hard it is to actually run the table in college football (which, if you’re Oklahoma State, you might have to do).

Verdict: Overrated