By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Will somebody tell me where the Oklahoma State Cowboys are hiding?
In fitting with the season, the Pokes are in disguise, they must be.
OSU has plenty of costumes to dress up in, to be sure. Their latest, the white jerseys, white helmets with the black stripe and black pants, drove their total to seven outfits in seven games. These guys have more clothes than the average teenage girl.
That can’t be them that pounded Iowa State 58-27 Saturday in Ames. That Cowboy team ran the ball well and played stout defense. That’s not OSU. That team only passed for 78 yards, completing just 10 of 27 attempts. That’s not OSU, the real Cowboys throw it all over the field, rolling up more passing yards by the second.
Whichever team it was passing itself off as OSU Saturday ran for 342 yards, an average of 7.3 yards per play. And the faux Cowboys’ passing quarterback, Enid senior Clint Chelf, darn near ran for 100 yards, finishing with 85, or 9.4 yards per play, thus gaining more yards with his feet than his arm.
These impostors also allowed the Cyclones just 346 total yards, an average of just four yards per play. The real Pokes give up way more yards than that.
So who are these guys, anyway?
Well, so far they are still in the hunt for a Big 12 title, and have stumbled only once this season, that inexplicable mess at West Virginia. They are bowl eligible for the eighth-straight season, a school record and a big deal for a program that was down as long as the Cowboys were. And bowls are certainly a big deal for recruits, not to mention the rabid fan base. They also are 6-1 and nationally ranked, a status that is becoming somewhat old hat for OSU fans these days.
They are doing it with a defense that has returned to its old opportunistic ways, circa 2011. Through seven games, the Pokes have 13 interceptions and have recovered six fumbles this season. They are plus nine in the ratio of turnovers to takeaways.
And they are once again bending and not breaking, giving up 122.7 yards rushing and 231.1 yards passing per game.
Things are going to get interesting for the Cowboys the rest of the way. The Pokes’ final five opponents have a combined record of 28-9, with five of those losses being contributed by struggling Kansas.
OSU will have to step up its game on both sides of the football to get past Texas Tech this week. The Red Raiders gave Oklahoma all it wanted at Norman before falling 38-30. Tech’s offense is what OSU’s used to be, the Raiders throw it often — and well.
Tech is second in the conference in terms of passing offense, and last in rushing. The Red Raiders will have a hard time running the ball against OSU’s league-leading run defense, but they won’t care unless the Pokes can find a way to slow down T-Tech’s passing game.
OSU’s offense has yet to put together a complete game this season. They look good in spurts, moving the ball in fits and starts between overthrows, dropped passes, missed blocks and three and outs. But still, they have managed to become No. 4 in the league in total offense, not to mention fourth in total defense.
While we try to figure out just who these Cowboys are, Oklahoma will rest up this week, getting ready for the Nov. 7 version of the game of the millennium, when the Sooners travel to take on Baylor. I suspect the rest of the Big 12 will be rooting for OU next week, hoping the Sooners will bring the soaring Bears back to earth a bit.
Whoever these Cowboys are, if they are to remain in the conversation for league title consideration, they must unmask the Red Raiders this week.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.