This may not be the year for Oklahoma State fans to put their hearts out there again in Bedlam. While the Cowboys lost so many starters and backups on the depth chart becoming a much younger team, Oklahoma returns a large number of contributors including new OU hero at quarterback Trevor Knight.
Knight struggled in Bedlam before being injured late in the first half, but he delivered big in New Orleans with the best game of his career in the upset win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The question is still out there as to whether he is a consistent quarterback. Oklahoma will also need to find the answer at running back whether it is sophomore Keith Ford or incoming freshmen Joe MIxon or Samje Perine are going to be rushed into the mix.
The receivers are plentiful with Sterling Shepard leading the contingent and at tight end senior Aaron Ripkowski and converted quarterback Blake Bell make for two strong possibilities.
The offensive line includes three seniors in tackles Tyus Thompson and Daryl Williams and guard Dionte Savage and two juniors in center Ty Darlington and guard Nila Kasitati.
The matchup with the Oklahoma offense and the Cowboys on defense is more than a fair fight up front with the OSU defensive line being up to the task and could create some big plays. However, the inexperience on the back end of the Cowboys defense, especially at safety, is a major concern as Oklahoma will look to exert themselves in the passing game and have shown they can do that quite well even against more veteran and experienced defenses.
OSU is better equipped to go toe-to-toe with OU on offense as the Cowboys have speed and weapons. The greater concern will be up front with Charles Tapper (end) and Jordan Phillips (tackle), two juniors who are both a load.
It would appear that Frank Shannon will be re-instated at linebacker and join with playmaker and speedster Eric Stryker and Dominique Alexander to form a strong linebacker trio. It's amazing that just two years ago OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was trying to minimize the linebacker position. Now it is a strength of the defense.
In the secondary the top billing will go to Zack Sanchez, who has proven to be a Jeckyl-Hyde type player. He can make a big play on one snap and then get burned on a route the next. Seniors Julian Wilson (corner) and Quentin Hayes (safety) join sophomore Hatari Byrd (safety) in the rest of the starting lineup in the secondary.
Oklahoma is experienced and confident going into the season. The schedule is laid out for them with the Baylor, Kansas State, TCU, and Oklahoma State games all played in Norman and no serious competition in the non-conference as Tennessee isn't ready to play big boy ball just yet.
It is a scenario similar to what was laid out in front of the Cowboys last season. Like Oklahoma did to the Cowboys last December, maybe by that time OSU will be equipped to reciprocate. If the two teams played today as we have theorized throughout this series then you have to favor Oklahoma, and that is also why they are favored preseason to win the Big 12.