The 2014 football season has consisted of mostly smiles in Stillwater. OSU has won four in a row and will likely make it five in a row this Saturday at Kansas.
Oklahoma State will need to treat this contest as a learning experience; a chance to tune up the weak spots. Let's be honest, the Cowboys could beat Kansas with half of the team blindfolded. The Jayhawks flat-out stink. KU is very likely the worst Power-Five team in the country (although Wake Forest, Colorado and Vanderbilt might resemble that remark). The Jayhawks wouldn't contend in one single FBS conference. Not the Sun Belt, or the Mountain West. Not C-USA, not the MAC and definitely not the American. These guys wouldn't even contend for the FCS championship.
So no matter what OSU does in Lawrence on Saturday, we won't learn too much. This game isn't about the final score; it's about making sure that the Cowboys are ready for one of the roughest stretches in recent school history.
The second half of OSU's schedule rivals any team's (including the SEC West) slate in America. Trips to No. 9 TCU, Kansas State, No. 3 Baylor and No. 9 Oklahoma are all daunting, while mixed among those brutal road trips are home dates with a dangerous West Virginia team and an athletic Texas squad.
It won't be long until we find out just how good OSU actually is.
Already a week into October, it's easy to forget that the No. 16 Cowboys haven't yet played a road game this season. OSU opened up at a neutral site and gave the defending champs a whale of a battle, but has since played four straight in Stillwater.
Assuming a win over Kansas, the Pokes will be 3-0 in the conference, which is all well and good. But it's hard to get an accurate gauge on just how good they are because the wins will be over the Big 12's worst three teams.
“We've got room for improvement in all areas and in our development,” coach Mike Gundy said. “Each week is important to our football team, as we continue to get guys healthy and get guys that could have been in the last game, but had some bumps and bruises. Our overall team concept has to improve. We have the same plan as last week, we just have to travel earlier this week and head up to Lawrence."
Gundy also knows that the Cowboys still need to work on establishing a consistent ground attack. OSU is 74th in the country in rushing yards despite playing against multiple soft defenses.
I mentioned to you guys a month ago that we don't run the ball effectively enough, we don't average enough yards per carry in the running game and we're not very explosive in that area,” Gundy explained. “We have to continue to work up front. We were better than we were the week before with blocking up front, but we need to continue to get movement. As we go through league play, it'll get more difficult, and it is a concern, but we're not ever going to shelve the running game. We'll continue to work at it, develop the young guys and hopefully get better."
Saturday is the perfect time for the Cowboys to get better, not only on the ground but in all facets. Because after that, the real season begins.