The Baylor Bears, winners of three of their past four games, host the Oklahoma State Cowboys who are coming off of an emotional loss to rival Oklahoma. The Cowboys are 7-4 on the year, and are ranked 24th in the country currently. They travel to Waco, TX this weekend, to face a surging Baylor squad looking for its 3rd win in a row. So, who are the key players for the Cowboys as their season concludes?
-Joseph Randle – Junior Running Back
Randle is the top runner in the Big 12, and one of the best in the nation. He has been a steady performer for the Cowboys the past two years as the primary back for Oklahoma State. Randle injured his knee late in the 2012 season or he would have been the Big 12's top rusher last year and this year.
Randle is a workhorse running back, who has over 1200 yards on the year. He has 234 carries this year, while the player with the second most just has 59. He has 4 times as many rushing yards as anyone else on the team, and has double the rushing touchdowns (14). Randle is one of the best running backs in the Big 12, due to his versatility and ability to do anything you can ask a running back to do.
Randle has good size at 6-1, 195 pounds, has solid speed and can catch the ball out of the back field. His biggest strength to me however is his lateral agility and his ability to get through a hole quickly. If the Bears do not play disciplined run defense, Randle is quite capable of finding cut-back lanes and burning the Bears.
-Josh Stewart – Sophomore Wide Receiver
The sophomore receiver is the other big weapon for the Cowboys, as he has broken out in 2012 with over 1000 receiving yards already. He has 84 receptions on the year, with their second leading receiver only having 29 catches. He is their passing offense.
Stewart is an undersized inside receiver with good hands and good quickness. He is a player that is good in open space, but excels at finding spots in zone coverage. He is the go to guy for any of the Cowboys quarterbacks. The Bears will have a tough time handling him with any of their defensive players in man coverage and he excels at beating zones. This is a tough cover for any team, but especially the Bears.
-Clint Chelf – Junior Quarterback
The junior starter began the season as the third string but due to injuries to Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh, Chelf was given the reins of the offense against Kansas State. In his four games as the starter, Chelf is just 2-2, with losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma. He has not been nearly as accurate as the previous two quarterbacks. He is an okay athlete at the quarterback position, capable of making a few plays with his legs, as shown against Oklahoma last week when he ran for 63 yards on 12 carries. The most experienced quarterback entering the year for the Cowboys, Chelf only had 1 game with extensive playing time, against Kansas last year in his career.
-J.W. Walsh – Freshman Quarterback
It wouldn't be fair to say that Walsh is the Cowboy version of the Belldozer, but it wouldn't be far off. The starter for five games, Walsh was injured in the Iowa State game and lost his starting position to the aforementioned Clint Chelf. He has since been utilized as a rushing threat in short yardage and goal line situation.
Walsh actually played very well in his five games as starter (replacing Wes Lunt) and led them to a 4-1 record with their lone loss coming against Texas. Walsh is a little bigger than Chelf but is a much better athlete and runner for the quarterback position.
-Daytawion Lowe – Junior Safety
The starting free safety and leader of the defense, Lowe is a second year starter for the Cowboys. He led the team in tackles in 2011, and is very close to repeating that again this year. He led Oklahoma State with 97 tackles and 3 forced fumbles, part of a defense that excelled in creating turnovers. This year, the defense has not been nearly as opportunistic, and Lowe's play has suffered a bit.
He only has 1 forced fumble and 2 interceptions on the year. He has added 60 tackles though, but has not been the big time playmaker that he was last year. Lowe is a great centerfielder though and has the ability to get a big hit for a fumble or an interception on any play.