The Big XII was thrown for a loop last week when it was announced that standout Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant was ruled ineligible for the rest of the season because of not disclosing the extent of his relationship with Deion Sanders.
Bryant has since acknowledged his wrongdoings, but the Cowboys are contesting the suspension. Nevertheless, Bryant will most likely be kept out of OK State's contest with Mizzou on Saturday night.
Last year Bryant did virtually no damage against Mizzou (7 catches for 47 yards), but the Tigers couldn't have counted on that happening again this year. If he decides to enter the draft, Bryant would most likely be selected in the top 10, so containing that kind of talent defensively is nearly impossible.
This should be a huge lift for the Mizzou secondary and the defense in general because the subtraction of a star player creates a domino effect on the offense. Now that Bryant is gone, sophomore Josh Cooper has to now step up and be a number one target for Zac Robinson, sophomore Hubert Anyiam has to be a number two target and so on.
In 2008, Bryant put up these ridiculous numbers: 87 catches for 1480 yards and 19 touchdowns a year ago. Those numbers are irreplaceable, no matter who has the task of being next in line. With that said, the Cowboys lack proven depth behind Bryant and that will give the Tigers the edge in that matchup on Saturday.
Bryant has also proven to be explosive in the return game for the Pokes this season, taking a punt back 82 yards for a touchdown in the loss against Houston. His versatility and athleticism will be sorely missed, but cornerback Kevin Rutland isn't thinking about easing up on his preparation.
"He's not just a number," Rutland said. "When a guy is that explosive and has that kind of talent, you can't say you're not worried about him. We key in on him, so you definitely have to up your game when he's playing, but if he doesn't play we won't slack in our preparation. We'll still go out there and practice just as hard."
How will Mizzou attack Bryant's absence on Saturday night? First of all, the scheme on defense will be less focused on stopping one explosive player, which will help free up bodies to defend all of the Cowboys' targets. Like I said earlier, the domino effect will help the Tigers tremendously.
Oklahoma State is a very talented 4-1 team and will do their best to replace Bryant, but there is no doubt they lose a lot of an edge that they may have had in this game because of his absence.