Jan 2, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; A general view of an Oklahoma Cowboys helmet before the game against Stanford Cardinal in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

Knowing the Big 12: Oklahoma State Cowboys

The third Big 12 opponent on the schedule for the Kansas Jayhawks in 2012 will be the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys finished last season with an overall record of 12-1 and a conference record of 8-1. Oklahoma State’ only loss in 2011 came in upset fashion as they lost to the Iowa State Cyclones in overtime by a score of 37-31. They were in the BCS National Championship debate, but did not get in and played the Standford Cardinals in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Cowboys beat Stanford in a thrilling overtime game by a score of 41-38.

The Oklahoma State offense lost fourteen players this offseason with the biggest players being Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden. Both players were selected in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Blackmon was selected 5th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Weeden was selected 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns.

These two players were a dynamic duo in the success of the Cowboys last season. Weeden recorded 4,727 passing yards on 408 completions, 37 touchdowns, and thirteen interceptions while Blackmon recorded 1,522 receiving yards on 121 receptions and eighteen receiving touchdowns. Two players that will need to be called upon to fill in the gaps left by Weeden and Blackmon will be Wes Lunt and Tracy Moore (according to the spring depth chart).

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys said goodbye to seven players this offseason. The biggest losses on defense though are their two starting defensive ends in 2011, Richetti Jones and Jamie Blatnick. During the 2011 season, Jones and Blatnick terrorized opposing offenses as they recorded a combined fourteen tackles for loss, ten sacks, and two forced fumbles. Both players went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft, but Blatnick was picked up by the Denver Broncos as a undrafted free agent.

The two players that might get the job of replacing Jones and Blatnick are Cooper Bassett and Ryan Robinson. Bassett recorded seven tackles for loss, three sacks, and one forced fumble in 2011 while Robinson recorded three tackles for loss and one sack. Another player that might not start, but could help out at the defensive end position is Nigel Nicholas. Last season, Nicholas recorded sixteen tackles for loss, four and a half sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys will be led by their head coach, Mike Gundy. Last season, Coach Gundy was named 2011 National Coach of the Year. He has won 41 games over his last four years with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Coach Gundy has completely transformed the Cowboys since taking over in 2005. Over his seven years as head coach, he has achieved six winning seasons, six bowl game appearances (4-2 record), and two seasons with at least ten wins (2010 and 2011).

There is no doubt that the Oklahoma State Cowboys are one of the favorites to win the Big 12 Championship in 2012 (Big 12 Championship is awarded to best record in the Big 12).

2012 Oklahoma State Cowboys Schedule -

Savannah State 9/1
@Arizona 9/8
Louisiana-Lafayette 9/15
Texas 9/29
@Kansas 10/13
Iowa State 10/20
TCU 10/27
@Kansas State 11/3
West Virginia 11/10
Texas Tech 11/17
@Oklahoma 11/24
@Baylor 12/1

Other “Knowing the Big 12″ Previews -

TCU Horned Frogs
Kansas State Wildcats
Oklahoma Sooners
Texas Longhorns
Baylor Bears

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Tags: 2011 National Coach Of The Year 2012 NFL Draft BCS National Championship Big 12 Championship Brandon Weeden Cleveland Browns Cooper Bassett Denver Broncos Iowa State Iowa State Cyclones Jacksonville Jaguars Jamie Blatnick Justin Blackmon Kansas Jayhawks Mike Gundy Nigel Nicholas Oklahoma State Oklahoma State Cowboys Oklahoma State Football Richetti Jones Ryan Robinson Stanford Cardinals Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Tracy Moore Wes Lunt

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