Comparing Cowboys To Newly Crowned Champs

I'm sure there are plenty of football experts that might scoff at the premise of this article in comparing newly crowned and first ever College Football Playoff national champion Ohio State and the TicketCity Cactus Bowl champion Oklahoma State Cowboys. I can even hear a few of the responses from high-brow college football bloggers that believe the blood has to be blue for a team to be crowned.

It is some of that thinking that leaves me wondering how the TCU Horned Frogs would have fared Tuesday night in either playing the winning Buckeyes or the loser in the title game, the Oregon Ducks. That stodgy group of media might say that the comparison ends with the acronyms for both teams being OSU. I would not.

Also, I noticed that Berry Tramel in his column from the CFP Championship Game offered to compare Ohio State to OU in some ways. I bring up this comparison because Oklahoma State has been closer to playing for a national championship more recently than OU.

The most obvious comparison is at quarterback where both teams required three to get through the season. The Buckeyes lost Braxton Miller before the season ever started and that brought on J.T Barrett from Wichita Falls Rider High School in Texas. Barrett took Ohio State all the way through the regular season before going down in the final game with Michigan.

That meant redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones had to break in with the Big 10 Championship Game against Wisconsin, which he did so well that it earned the Buckeyes a spot in the CFP Final Four. Jones proved to be extra special as both a zone read operator at quarterback in conjunction with standout running back Ezekiel Elliott from St.Louis (Burrough School), a player that Oklahoma State recruited aggressively, and as a passing quarterback, where he seemingly flicked long balls down the field for big gains. He also showed amazing poise for his lack of big-game experience.

Oklahoma State also lost a trusted quarterback in J.W. Walsh in the first quarter of the second game of the season. Walsh had played well in a close call opener against top-ranked and defending national champion Florida State and Heisman Trophy quarterback in Jameis Winston.

In fact, Walsh, who fumble late in Seminoles territory, could have very likely scored a go-ahead touchdown on the play if a receiver had bothered to get between Walsh and an FSU defensive back.

OSU had an older quarterback, but one much less experienced, in Daxx Garman set to go next. Garman, with a big arm had immediate success, but his limitations in operating some phases of the offense and mobility caught up with him. He took a beating against Texas along with some other opponents and could not play against Baylor.

That brought on freshman Mason Rudolph, who like Jones for Ohio State did not show any timidity in jumping into the position. A strong debut against CFP contender Baylor led to an upset win over sinking Oklahoma, and Rudolph's three-game run culminated with the bowl win over Washington.

Ohio State is getting loads of credit, and so is head coach Urban Meyer for getting such a young team to the championship game and to the national title. The Buckeyes are young with 12 players on the two-deep depth chart from last night, on both offense and defense, each being no older than redshirt sophomores and there are may true sophomores, redshirt freshmen, and true freshmen.

The average player on the CFP National Championship Game two-deep at Ohio State comes out to average just over a redshirt sophomore, while the average player on the Cactus Bowl two deep at Oklahoma State comes out to average just over a true sophomore, or close to a year or season younger. To further compare the Cowboys had 27 players on the bowl game two-deep depth chart that were redshirt sophomores or younger.

Now, we know that the recruiting classes have been different. I know that I am an opponent to the star classifications but I will admit that there is a difference is the overall level or recruit signing with Ohio State than with Oklahoma State. Here is a comparison of the last four recruiting classes since few of the seniors at either Oklahoma State or Ohio State were fifth-year guys, and for good measure I threw in OU.

2014 (freshmen) Ohio State - 5th (3.78); Okla.State - 14th (3.25); OU - 13th (3.23)
2013 (sophomores) Ohio State - 1st (4.04); Okla.State - 25th (3.09); OU - 15th (3.29)
2012 (juniors) Ohio State - 3rd (3.76); Okla.State - 24th (3.08); OU - 10th (3.40)
2011 (seniors) Ohio State - 6th (3.70); Okla.State - 18th (3.12); OU - 15th (3.68)
The average stars per signee is in parenthesis and these are rankings.

My contention is we do not know what TCU would do against Ohio State and we know that winners and losers are very much determined by matchups. I am not saying that Oklahoma State would win a head-to-head matchup right now with Ohio State, but this same Buckeyes team that floored Oregon last night lost early in the season to a lowly Virginia Tech team and they struggled with Minnesota.

My premise with this is the margins from champion to 7-6 in the Big 12 in a rebuilding year is smaller than ever. By the way the biggest difference in any one area that the eye test showed me last night is the Ohio State offensive line versus the Oklahoma State offensive line.

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