Knee-Jerk Reaction: Oklahoma State 24 Central Michigan 13


Unfiltered thoughts immediately following the 2015 Oklahoma State football season-opening victory against Central Michigan


So, that was kinda ugly. After a game like that, there are several reactions one can have.

One option is to take the “win is a win” approach, such as Jordan Sterns.

Another option is to take the incredibly pessimistic approach, complaining about preseason hype, coaches talking up players too much, pointing out every single thing OSU did wrong on Thursday night, ignoring any good because “they should’ve won by AT LEAST three touchdowns.”

The third option is to take the conventional homer approach, wondering aloud that maybe Central Michigan is actually pretty good. I mean, the Cowboys were obviously just jittery, on the road in a Division II-type stadium, on a wet field, with a relatively young team that still needs time to mesh together, freakin’ Ben Grogan missed some field goals, etc etc etc.

My approach is a little of all three.

First of all, yes, a win is a win, especially on the road in a game a little too close for comfort. And by too close, I mean that the Chippewas had a lead in the third quarter, even if it did feel temporary. Losing that game would’ve honestly doomed the season from the start, so be thankful it didn’t turn out that way.

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And yes, it was disappointing. Anyone that’s followed this team from the spring through fall has been bombarded with all kinds of talk about the defense, about the skill positions, about Mason Rudolph’s progression, and certainly about that dang ‘ol offensive line, the bane of 2014. It’s entirely understandable if you expected this team to come out fired up and cut apart CMU with surgeon-like precision. If you’re basing your expectations off of newspapers and websites (including this one,) the 24-point spread might have even seemed conservative.


There are however, some things to take into account now that the game has come and gone.

It’s obviously early, but maybe Central Michigan is actually kinda good, or at least not bad. This is a perennial bowl team with a quarterback that stands a decent shot of making an NFL roster after all. The Chippewas defense, which limited the Cowboys to 141 yards (40 rushing) in the first half, ranked 21st nationally in run defense in 2014. They just might do the same this year, but we won’t know the final tally until December.

Sep 3, 2015; Mount Pleasant, MI, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas quarterback Cooper Rush (10) drops back to pass against the Oklahoma State Cowboys defense during the 1st quarter at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

CMU quarterback Cooper Rush converted a number of big third downs, some with his feet, surprisingly enough. Despite constant pressure from the Cowboys, he held fast, shrugging off an early interception to make some big throws with plenty of defenders in his face throughout the game, which is to be commended.

Still, the Cowboys held the Chippewas to six points in the first half, and 13 overall. In this era of high-scoring offenses, that’s nothing to downplay.

This Oklahoma State honestly did look like they were doing a walkthrough at first though, expecting to just run some plays and score. And when the points failed to come, with CMU racking up some yards on the other end, they seemed to think it would just magically stop at some point, and get easier. Well, it didn’t.

Did you notice the lack of fire from the team tonight? Maybe they felt like it would be embarrassing to be getting jacked up and celebrating  plays against a team that they were expected to demolish, and even worse when the game was close. Maybe this team has been reading too much of what the pundits have been saying. I wouldn’t be surprised if so, and can you blame them?

Regardless, the defense made plays when it needed to, and the offense had it’s moments when the engine was firing on all cylinders.

But this sporadic play won’t be enough when conference play starts.

Even so, this game might have been the wake-up call that a over-confident team fresh off of a 7-6 season needed. Perhaps they needed a reminder that this is largely the same team from last season, and despite the 2-0 finish, there was a reason for the 5-6 mark leading up to it. I’m confident that Mike Gundy and his staff will drive this point home over the course of the next few weeks.

If the Cowboys’ journey to Mount Pleasant had taken place on the second or third week of the season, maybe it would’ve turned out a little differently. In fact, I’m sure it would have. There honestly did seem to be a rust factor, and this was a huge game for CMU, who really had nothing to lose.

For now, I’m going to err on the side of assuming that this game will serve as motivation over the next two weeks before the conference opener against Texas. Because the alternative, which is to believe that this team is going to struggle for a second season, is just a bit too much to handle at the present moment.

Time will tell, and it’s on the Cowboys’ side.

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