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2020 Season

Big 12 Season Preview: Oklahoma State Ready For Conference Title Run

If they can stay healthy, the Cowboys look like a prime candidate to compete for the Big 12 Championship.

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As college football continues to try and ramp up athletic activity for the upcoming season, we turn to looking more closely at what to expect from each Big 12 team come fall. As the summer rolls along, we’ll preview the entire conference, providing an overview of the offense, defense, and special teams. Included as well is a projected depth chart, with returning starters in bold.

Oklahoma State made definite progress in 2019, as stars emerged on the offensive side of the ball, and the defense showed promise. Ultimately, injuries and inexperience ended up costing the Pokes four games in the regular season, but head coach Mike Gundy’s squad ended last year with two Top 25 wins and a fourth place finish in the Big 12.

Now, 18 of 22 starters return after wide receiver Tylan Wallace and running back Chuba Hubbard both announced they’d wait another year to enter the NFL Draft and returned to Oklahoma State. With the most experienced squad in the Big 12, and offensive firepower on hand, the Pokes could certainly be title-bound.

Projected 2020 Oklahoma State Depth Chart

OFFENSEDEFENSE
LTDylan Galloway (Sr.)DETrace Ford (So.)
LGJosh Sills (Jr.)DTIsrael Antwine (Jr.)
CRy Schneider (Sr.)DTCameron Murray (Sr.)
RGBryce Bray (So.)DETyler Lacy (So.)
RTTeven Jenkins (Sr.)LBAmen Ogbongbemiga (Sr.)
WRTylan Wallace (Sr.)LBMalcolm Rodriguez (Sr.)
WRDillon Stoner (Sr.)CBRodarius Williams (Sr.)
WRBraydon Johnson (Jr.)SJarrick Bernard (Jr.)
CWJelani Woods (Jr.)STre Sterling (Jr.)
RBChuba Hubbard (Sr.)SKolby Harvell-Peel (Jr.)
QBSpencer Sanders (So.)CBThomas Harper (So.)

Oklahoma State Offensive Outlook

Offensive production isn’t foreign to the Pokes, but in 2020 they could very well have the most explosive offense in the Big 12. Chuba Hubbard, last year’s Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, returns at running back. Hubbard ran for 2,094 yards last season and became the focal point of the offense later in the season, exhibiting an acceleration and ability to find seams that make him a constant big play threat.

In front of Hubbard is an offensive line that brings back three of last year’s starting five, and 90 career starts in total. One of the starting spots is likely to go to guard Josh Sills, who transferred in the offseason from West Virginia. Sills was a 2019 All-Big 12 selection in the preseason before injury sidelined him for the year.

Another major piece of the offensive attack for the Pokes will be Spencer Sanders, who was averaging around 270 yards on the ground and through the air before he was injured in mid-November. As a redshirt freshman, he struggled with turnovers at times, but expect the second year signal caller to be more consistent this season. If he can stay healthy, Sanders will be in line to accumulate some honors in the postseason.

Sanders has ample receiving options headed into the fall. Despite a few transfers, key pass catchers return for the Pokes, including star Tylan Wallace. Wallace was injured late last season, but if the 2018 Biletnikoff Award Finalist can stay healthy, he could be the best wide receiver in the Big 12 this season. Outside of Wallace, “Cowboy Back” Jelani Woods and receivers Dillon Stoner and Braydon Johnson are back after accounting for 1,202 yards receiving last season.

Oklahoma State Defensive Outlook

Defensively, the Pokes have every reason to expect improvement in 2020. Ten starters are back from a team that held opposing offenses to 147.3 yards rushing per game in Big 12 play last season. Up front, Oklahoma State will be lead by Trace Ford, who had a standout year as a true freshman, notching nine quarterback hurries. Beside him as well will be Cameron Murray and Antwine Israel, two upperclassmen who combined for 6 sacks in conference games in 2019.

At linebacker, the Pokes are set. Malcolm Rodriguez and Amen Ogbongbemiga return as seniors who were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Big 12 in tackles last year. Both seniors are likely to comprise one of the best linebacker duos in the conference this season.

The secondary loses only one starter from last season – the only starter not returning on defense – at one of the cornerback positions. Sophomore Thomas Harper could be a name to watch there. He’ll have plenty of help around him, especially with All-Big 12 First Team selection Kolby Harvell-Peel returning at safety for Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma State Special Teams Outlook

The one concern Oklahoma State may have could be in their special teams, where they’ll need to find a new field goal kicker. Sophomore Alex Hale could be the next up to man that spot. Fellow Australian Tom Hutton will take charge of the punting duties once again, and there are players elsewhere on the roster with experience bring back kicks and punts.

Final Thoughts

The fact of the matter is that 2020 Oklahoma State is one of Mike Gundy’s most complete and talented teams that the long-tenured head coach has had in Stillwater. In Sanders, Hubbard, and Wallace, this team will feature the kind of big play trio that could set records in the fall. With more returning production than any other Big 12 squad, the Pokes are set to make big strides after an 8-5 season in 2019.

This is certainly an AP Top 20 type of squad, and maybe even better than that. A run at a Big 12 championship is certainly a realistic goal for the Pokes this year, but will they actually be able to reach that ceiling? Turnovers and injuries will be key factors, but if Oklahoma State can avoid major issues there, they will be in the running for a shot at the title game this year.

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