Very few programs around the nation can be consistently dominant. Most programs experience peaks and valleys.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys peaked in 2011 with a 12-1 record and a victory in the Fiesta Bowl. They appear set to peak again in 2015.
A strong performance in the TicketCity Cactus Bowl built positive momentum for the Cowboys as the team enters the offseason. The 30-22 victory over the Washington Huskies (8-6) allowed the Cowboys to finish 7-6. It also highlighted some of the key players coming back for Oklahoma STate next season.
It starts at quarterback.
The program hasn’t had its answer behind center since Brandon Weeden left. After a few years of quarterback competitions, rotations and transfers, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy finally found his new gunslinger in freshman Mason Rudolph.
Rudolph was 17-of-26 passing for 299 yards and a pair touchdowns against the Huskies. During his three starts, the freshman completed 57 percent of his passes for 853 yards and six touchdowns.
The young quarterback’s top targets both return next season.
Junior Brandon Shepherd led the Cowboys with five receptions for 98 yards in the bowl game. Freshman James Washington added a spectacular touchdown catch.
One of the nation’s top pass-rushers will also return.
Emmanuel Ogbah was an First-Team All-Conference performer and led Oklahoma State in both sacks (11) and tackles for loss (17). Ogbah will likely enter next season as the favorite to claim the Big 12 Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
A quickly tally:
Dangerous wide receivers. Check.
Elite pass-rusher. Check.
The Cowboys are well positioned to compete in the Big 12 Conference next fall.
Oklahoma State will need to replace seven senior starters, though.
The team will miss one particular player the most, but the legend of James Castleman will live on forever in Stillwater, Oklahoma: