How good are the Oklahoma State Cowboys?
On Saturday Oklahoma State handed TCU its first loss of the season with a 49-29 victory at home, moving them to 9-0 on the season and the top of the Big 12 standings. Entering the game, TCU had one of the top offenses in the country, featuring PFF’s top-graded quarterback and wide receiver in Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson, respectively. However, the two connected for just 64 yards as the game was put of reach fairly early for the Horned Frogs. The Cowboys defense forced Boykin into multiple mistakes as they intercepted him four times, each one a significant coverage misread or force that we had rarely seen this season from the TCU signal caller. The mistakes resulted in his lowest passing grade of the season.
Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph had a solid +3.0 passing performance, taking advantage of multiple TCU coverage busts with five touchdown passes, four of which came from more than 40 yards out. And when pressured, he compiled a ridiculous 31.4 YPA and perfect passer rating. On defense, the team saw strong performances from several top players including DT Vincent Taylor, LB Seth Jacobs, and DE Emmanuel Ogbah, who each graded at +1.4 or better, though outside of turnovers, TCU moved the ball fairly well for much of the game.
How good is Oklahoma State after this game? It’s unclear. Certainly a 9-0 record speaks for itself and both the Cowboys offense and defense have cumulative grades that rank in the top 25 in the FBS, but it’s also worth noting that they’re the only team TCU has faced that currently has a winning record. And outside of Saturday’s game, the other top teams in the conference (Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU) haven’t played each other yet.
Oklahoma State still has upcoming games against Baylor and Oklahoma — though both are at home, which increases their odds of winning out. Baylor has had an incredible season on offense, but as we’ve pointed out previously, they’ve played a weak schedule to this point (zero games against teams with a winning record) and have a potentially exploitable weakness in the front seven. Oklahoma has similarly graded extremely well on both sides of the ball; quarterback Baker Mayfield is one of just three players with a better overall grade than Oklahoma State’s Rudolph and the defense is stacked with talent, including DE Charles Walker and LB Eric Striker.
There are some concerns for Oklahoma State, including at offensive line where they’ve struggled in both pass protection and run blocking. LT Victor Salako has been the best player on the unit by far, but he’s still graded negatively as a pass blocker. Fortunately, they’re helped by a quick passing game that sees Rudolph spend an average of just 2.38 seconds in the pocket — the 19th-lowest mark out of 121 FBS quarterbacks. Rudolph also has the fourth-ranked overall grade in the FBS, while his accuracy percentage on deep (20+ yard) passes ranks second at 61.3 percent — a figure that would rank first in the NFL this season. On defense there will be a lot of pressure on Emmanuel Ogbah, who has the third-highest grade among edge defenders.
It will be exciting to watch the the Big 12 standings down the stretch as Oklahoma State and the other top teams start to sort things out on the field.