State of the Cowboys: Week 11

State of the Cowboys: Week 11

After each game, this feature will analyze several aspects of the Oklahoma State football team. Each category will either rise (+1), fall (-1) or stay even (0). Each change is based on the Cowboys performance last week. The count began after the Cowboys' loss against Arizona -- that calibrated the chart (considering we didn't learn much from the Savannah State blowout).

The Cowboys lost an overtime heartbreaker to OU in Norman, 51-48.

QUARTERBACK: Rising (+3)
In his first career road start in the biggest game of the year, Clint Chelf was phenomenal – and it wasn't just his passing. For nearly three quarters, he was the team's leading rusher and passer. He was also the leading receiver after Joseph Randle found him on a 36-yard end-around pass back. His stats weren't overwhelming: 19-37 for 253 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but he kept cool and collected in a raucous environment. He was far from the reason the Cowboys lost on Saturday.

GROUND GAME: Rising (+4)
Jeremy Smith picked the perfect game to have a career day. He rushed for 113 yards on 21 carries with four touchdowns. It was his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season. His counterpart, Jeremy Smith, seemed to still be dealing with injury recovery in a reserved role, totaling 25 yards on six carries. Overall, another impressive, and expected, performance from this group.

AIR GAME: Even (+2)
Josh Stewart continues to be the number one receiving option in Todd Monken's system – for better or for worse. Overall, Stewart was his usual productive self: 11 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. But the Sooners' lone interception came off a Stewart drop/tip. It seems to happen every game. And the rest of the Cowboys' wide receiving corps? They were nearly a non-factor. That's partly due to Chelf's progression and the system, but there's not another wideout other than Stewart establishing himself late in the season. It's a wash for this group after Bedlam.

FRONT SEVEN: Even (+4)
This should have been a statement game for the OSU front seven. They were paired with an injury-prone, depleted Sooners' offensive line after dominating Texas Tech and West Virginia in previous weeks. But their performance didn't match the hype in Bedlam. The Cowboys sacked Landry Jones just once, allowing him plenty of time to tear up the OSU secondary. However, the front seven did stifle the OU rushing attack (just 106 total yards), but when it mattered most, they failed to stop the Sooners' Blake Bell from sending the game to overtime and Brennan Clay from sealing the OU victory.

SECONDARY: Falling (+1)
This was the OSU secondary's worst performance of the season. Landry Jones dominated: 46-71 for 500 yards with three touchdowns and one interception through the air – and that interception was by linebacker Lyndell Johnson, not a member of the Cowboys' secondary. With just one momentum shift from an interception or stop through the air, and this could have been a whole new ballgame. Another disappointing performance.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Falling (+1)
After dominating the special teams' game the past two weeks, the Cowboys had a letdown in Norman. OU's Jalen Saunders returned a kickoff for an 81-yard touchdown. One made tackle on that return and the Cowboys might have been the team celebrating postgame. Quinn Sharp made both of his field goals, but that doesn't make up for an overall lackluster performance.

OVERALL: Falling (+2)
The worst part about this loss is the Cowboys' weren't outmatched, but still came up short. Clint Chelf put OSU in a position to win the game in regulation. Had OSU made one stop, they would be 2-0 in the past two Bedlam games and Mike Gundy would have further cemented his legacy. We could go on with the what-if's forever. The Cowboys will hope to regain composure for their regular season finale at Baylor.

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