State of the Cowboys: Week 7

After each game, this feature will analyze several aspects of the Oklahoma State football team. Each category will either rise (+1), fall (-1) or stay even (0). Each change is based on the Cowboys performance last week. The count began after the Cowboys' loss against Arizona -- that calibrated the chart (considering we didn't learn much from the Savannah State blowout).

The Cowboys defeated TCU 36-14 in Wes Lunt's return, led by another stellar defensive performance.

After spending the last three games on the sidelines, Wes Lunt looked rusty from the start on Saturday. His deep ball was consistently overthrown and his short passes were a bit off target. But after taking a few hits and hitting Austin Hays on a 41 yard flea-flicker pass, we saw the Lunt who earned the starting spot week one. Lunt finished 18-33 for 324 yards with one interception and one touchdown. Gundy's description of Lunt postgame, "good, not great," was accurate. It was a solid return performance, but there's room for improvement.

GROUND GAME: Even (+3)
The Cowboys' running game has gotten to the point where it needs to be excellent to rise in the rankings. This week, they were great. Joseph Randle led the way with 126 yards on 32 carries with one touchdown in the final moments of the game. Jeremy Smith only recorded 7 yards on the ground, but added a touchdown. It's clear that Randle is the No. 1 back, but until Smith is healthy and contributing like he is capable, this unit stands pat this week. Expectations are high for this group.

AIR GAME: Even (0)
The Cowboys' wide receivers would have been on the rise this week, had it been for one missed opportunity that resulted in a Horned Frog Touchdown. Midway through the first quarter, a pass intended for Josh Stewart went through his hands and right to TCU defensive back Elisha Olabode, who scored easily. Apart from that, OSU wideouts were productive. Stewart led the way with 120 yards on six catches. Charlie Moore had the Cowboys' lone catching touchdown. With Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson still sidelined with injury, OSU is still looking for a No. 1 option at wideout.

FRONT SEVEN: Rising (+3)
Alex Elkins was a beast on Saturday. The senior linebacker led the Cowboys in tackles (8) and sacks (1). OSU's defensive line kept heavy pressure on TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin all game long and held the Horned Frogs' leading rusher BJ Catalon to 43 yards on the ground. The Cowboys' interior pressure has been phenomenal, and the core of veteran linebackers have been solid. We'll see just how good this unit is when they face a strong Kansas State rushing attack next week.

SECONDARY: Rising (+2)
This group has had the biggest turnaround thus far for the Cowboys. Starting with the Arizona game and continuing to the Cowboys' unimpressive victory against Kansas, OSU's secondary had been terrible – failing to record an interception and allowing big play after big play over the top. But the past two weeks, we've seen a resurgence for this unit. The OSU secondary held Boykin to under 200 yards passing, recorded two interceptions and didn't allow a pass over 22 yards. Two picks, passing yards

SPECIAL TEAMS: Rising (+1)
Quinn Sharp scored 17 points. Need we say more? Still waiting for Justin Gilbert to take a kick for a touchdown.

OVERALL: Rising (+2)
Last week, we believed the win against Iowa State was the Cowboys' best win of the season. This victory was even better. The Cowboys' dominated an even more talented team in all aspects of the game. As Lunt continues to improve a number of skill players regain health, this could compete with the top echelon of the Big 12. Kansas State quarterback Colin Klein ran for 158 yards and three touchdowns last year in Stillwater. That was before he was a Heisman candidate on a top-5 team. We'll find out just how good the Cowboys are when they roll into Manhattan next week.

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