Big 12 Football Countdown: No. 2 Oklahoma State

USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 Football Countdown: No. 2 Oklahoma State

Gone are the days when the Cowboy were considered Big 12 doormats. Instead Oklahoma State has established themselves as contenders under the leadership of Mike Gundy. Gundy may be the Big 12's most underrated coach, taking a program whose all time record was below .500 and transforming the Cowboys into BCS contenders. OSU once again has a great chance to bask in the BCS spotlight and even capture the Big 12 title for the 2nd time in three years. The Pokes return just about everyone from the offense, including quarterbacks J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf. Of course this Cowboy team isn't perfect as they still need to improve their pass defense, one that ranked 110th overall last season. OSU is pretty lucky considering the way their schedule sets up.  Oklahoma, Baylor, KSU and TCU  are all games that will be played in Stillwater. If Oklahoma State can go into Austin and upset Texas, OSU may not only have a shot at the Big 12 title, they may well have a shot at the BCS title game like they did in 2011.

2012 Record: 8-5 (5-4)

Returning Starters: 14 (7 OFF, 7 DEF, 0 ST)

Key Losses on Offense: WR Isiah Anderson (407 yds. 4 TD), RB Joseph Randle (1417 yds. 14 TD)

Key Losses on Defense: LB Alex Elkins, CB Brodrick Brown, DE Nigel Nicholas, K/P/KOS Alex Elkins

Head Coach: Mike Gundy: 67-35 (9th Year)

Strength: Quarterback and Receivers

Last season, Oklahoma State was No.3 in the nation and No.1 in the Big 12 in scoring, and a lot of that is thanks to passing game. Oklahoma State never had a solid starter in place at QB last season, rotating between three quarterbacks, but with just QB Clint Chelf (1588 yds. 15 TD) and J.W. Walsh (1564 yds. 13 TD) returning, that QB race may have widdled down a bit. Both are qualified for the starting position and will have equally qualified receivers Josh Stewart (1210 yds. 7 TD), Blake Jackson (598 yds. 3 TD) and Charlie Moore (542 yds. 6 TD) to throw to. With Oklahoma State getting a new offensive coordinator in Mike Yurcich, it will be interesting to see if the passing game can retain the same "explosiveness" it did last season.

Weakness/Questions: Runningback and Secondary

Oklahoma State recorded nearly 2800 rushing yards of offense last season, take away RB Joseph Randle and what do you have? Just two running backs whose combined rushing total doesn't even equal a quarter of the team's rushing total. RB Jeremy Smith (371 yds. 8 TD) and RB Desmond Roland (301 yds. 4 TD) will have the unfortunate task of rebuilding the once great rushing game. Oklahoma State prided themselves in offense last season, not defense. While the defense wasn't horrible last season, it will need to improve if Oklahoma State wants to thwart Texas. Most notability in the secondary as they ranked 110th in yards allowed last season with 280 passing yards a game. While the Cowboys do return three starters from the secondary, they are still years away from being the best pass defenders. Getting a new defensive coordinator in Glenn Spencer doesn't give Oklahoma State the vote of confidence that the defense will improve significantly

Projected Record: 11-1 (8-1)

Bowl Game: Sugar Bowl

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