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Takeaways a Key Factor in OSU’s Turnaround

The Cowboys have turned things around in the turnover department.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Oklahoma State has finally started taking it back. That’s translated into wins, and it could be the way the Cowboys save their season.

The Pokes played poorly and started 2-0, and then they played even more poorly and dropped their next two. There were head-scratching QB and RB rotations, a porous defense (not completely eradicated) and a general sense of what the heck?.

In the last two wins, the Cowboys have settled on a quarterback and have finally gotten the ball into their best playmakers’ hands. But another huge difference has been the turnover margin.

Through the first four weeks, OSU was -3 in TOs. I wrote then about how turning around the Cowboys’ historically low takeaway numbers could help dig them of their hole. The Cowboys have done just that, no thanks to me.

Drilled down even more, OSU was -2 in each of its losses, but hasn’t lost a game in which it was even or positive in turnover margin. That’s not rocket science, I know. But the Cowboys have figured out how to keep their mitts on the ball on offense, and how to get a hand or two on the football on defense.

In the last two, the Pokes have been +5 (zero giveaways to five takeaways) and all those were interceptions. One of the worst teams in the league at takeaways has climbed into the top third in just two weeks. The +0.33 average is now on pace for the Pokes’ best finish since 2016.

That probably won’t hold, but it’s as dramatic a turnaround as any could have hoped, and it’s helped the Cowboys right the ship.

That’s made a huge difference, and it could be the key to the Cowboys’ salvaging what looked like a lost season in September.

Still in the Hunt

Despite those two forgettable weeks, the Cowboys are one win away from gaining a bit of a foothold in the conference.

In the Big 12, there are three distinct tiers of football. The top tier (currently) is inhabited by the outgoing bell cows of Oklahoma and Texas. The bottom tier is filled mostly by conference newbies with Houston, UCF, BYU and Cincinnati all struggling to gain their Power Five legs. Throw in a 2-4 Baylor team that stumbled out of the gate.

In the middle, though, is a logjam of teams that could very well cannibalize each other gifting the Longhorns and Sooners an easy road back to Arlington. An unpleasant gesture to Big 12 brass as they mosey on to greener pastures southeast.

That makes this weekend’s matchup of 2-1 teams in Morgantown so important.

If one of those teams, say Oklahoma State, wants to pop its head out from the pack and hang out in the pocket should, say Texas, trip down the stretch, they would have to make up the difference somewhere. And one of the most obvious places to do so is in the turnover battle. If they keep this up, OSU could be that team.

The Cowboys have a long way to go to be considered truly “in the running,” but if they want a chance to get there, a steady diet of winning the turnover margin will go a long way.

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