With the end of the 2016 college football season looming, we look at the Oklahoma State Cowboys Christmas wish before their game in the Alamo Bowl.
There are any number of things that Oklahoma State fans have hoped for at one point or another. With 2016 drawing to an end we have a pretty clear idea of what’s needed to improve the team next season. The 2016 Alamo Bowl against the Colorado Buffaloes offers one last chance for the Pokes to make a statement.
It might seem like asking for more than a possibility to get a third 10 win season in the last four years is a little much for Oklahoma State fans. Moreover, the Cowboys have been treated to some consistent success against very respectable Big 12 programs like the Texas Longhorns, TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Tech Red Raiders, and Kansas State Wildcats.
This was the second consecutive second place finish for the Pokes in the Big 12. They finished the regular season with a 9-3 (7-2 Big 12) record. A spot in the College Football Playoff, or even the hopes of possibly making it, was all but squashed when the Pokes lost to the Cental Michigan Chippewas on a last second Hail’mary that should not have even counted in the second game of the season. They rebounded by winning seven straight games. Yet, a chance to win their first Big 12 title since 2011 was squashed by in-state rival Oklahoma in the annual Bedlam game.
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If OK State is victorious against the Buffs a top 10 ranking could be in store next season. And with Christmas just around the corner that is one of the things that Pokes fans are hoping for. The three things listed here, among others, could be the biggest wishes in the minds of Oklahoma State fans to finish out 2016.
Nov 19, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) celebrates with wide receiver James Washington (28) after running for a touchdown during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
1. Mason Rudolph and James Washington return to Oklahoma State
The Pokes have relied on their high-powered offense to carry them to a nine-win season. At the heart of that offense is quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington. Both players will be entering their senior seasons if they decide to stay at Oklahoma State. Yet, they both have the ability to get picked in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Another season with Rudolph and Washington leading the Pokes offense would put them in a position to possibly be the favorites to win the Big 12 title. Considering OU loses their top offensive weapon in receiver Dede Westbrook and they also have the possibility of losing quarterback Baker Mayfield and running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, they could be in for a rebuilding season on offense in 2017.
Rudolph has rather quietly put together one of the best stat lines of any quarterbacks in college football. He threw for 3,777 yards and 25 touchdowns with only four interceptions. Rudolph added another 79 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. There has been a clear improvement in Rudolph’s play each year he progresses.
Washington proved that he is among the best deep threats. If he can haul in one more touchdown catch, then he will get at least 10 receiving touchdowns for the second straight year. He also has 19.5 yards per reception.
The combination of Rudolph and Washington is the most lethal quarterback-wide receiver duo that the Pokes offense has seen since Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. Furthermore, the wide receiver depth will be impressive with or without Washington since they still have Chris Lacy, Marcell Ateman, and Jalen McCleskey returning. Adding Washington to that mix would give Oklahoma State one of the best receiving corps in the country.
Jan 2, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; General view of the Valero Alamo Bowl logo at midfield before the 2016 Alamo Bowl between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Oregon Ducks at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
2. Alamo Bowl victory
A second place finish in the Big 12 standings landed Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. The game will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX, with kickoff lined up for 8 p.m. CT. Yet, the best part of the entire matchup is the matchup itself. OK State faces their former Big 12 rival Colorado. After the Buffs left the conference for the PAC-12 the two teams have not met since.
The Buffs are ranked no. 10 and the Pokes sit at no. 12. A top 10 finish will likely be waiting for the victor. There is little doubt to the talent and motivation of both teams. Colorado pulled off maybe the surprise of the season with a PAC-12 South title and a 10-3 (8-2 PAC-12) record. Head coach Mike MacIntyre walked away with Coach of the Year honors.
This could be the first bowl victory for OK State since they were victorious in the Cactus Bowl two seasons ago. The Pokes got embarrassed in their first New Years Six Bowl appearance last season against the Ole Miss Rebels by the score of 48-20.
A victory over the Buffs would give the Pokes their second consecutive 10-3 finish, however, they would finish higher in the rankings compared to last season. That has to sound appealing to any Oklahoma State fan.
Sep 10, 2016; Stillwater, OK, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas wide receiver Corey Willis (8) is tackled as he crosses the goal line by Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Ashton Lampkin (6) to win the game at Boone Pickens Stadium. Central Michigan won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
3. No more “what if” moments
It seems to happen every year the Pokes have an opportunity to pull off something great. Starting in 2011, what is known as the “Poke Choke” started to become a regular occurrence.
With the Pokes staring a National Championship right in the face in 2011, they failed to take down the Iowa State Cyclones in Ames. They finished no. 3 behind the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide in a slight snub from the championship.
Ranked no. 11, Oklahoma State fell to the unranked West Virginia Mountaineers in just their second matchup as conference opponents in 2013. Barring a Bedlam loss to OU, the Pokes could have had another shot at the National Championship.
Maybe the most heartbreaking outcome since the Iowa State loss is the Cowboys loss to Central Michigan in the second game of the season. An untimed down resulting from a blown call on intentional grounding gave the Chips a chance they should have never had. The resulting play was one of the biggest miracles of the season. A Hail-mary and hook-n-ladder combination ended up giving Cental Michigan a 30-27 victory that cost the Pokes any real shot they ever had at the College Football Playoff.
A top 25 ranking seems likely for the Pokes again in 2017. Which means another chance to blow a shot at the Big 12 title or College Football Playoff. It seems like Oklahoma State falls victim to heartbreak losses too frequently. Hopefully, the cards can fall into place and the Pokes can avoid any upset in 2017.
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