#31 Oklahoma State Football 2021 Preview

Oklahoma State Cowboys
Overall Rank: #31
#5 Big 12
 Oklahoma State Logo
Oklahoma State entered the 2020 season with lofty expectations. It did not go quite as planned, but the Cowboys still finished 8-3 and beat Miami in the Cheez-It Bowl to garner some momentum heading into 2021. There are some big names to replace, but Coach Mike Gundy has a very talented team if they can shake off the injury bug that haunted them in 2020.
2020 Record: 8-3, 6-3
2020 Bowl: Cheez-It Bowl vs. Miami (FL) (W 37-34)
Coach: Mike Gundy (137-67 at Oklahoma State, 137-67 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kasey Dunn
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Knowles
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dezmon Jackson, RB, 547 yards
Passing: Spencer Sanders, QB, 2,007 yards
Receiving: Braydon Johnson, WR, 248 yards
Tackles: Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, 82
Sacks: Trace Ford, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Kolby Harvell-Peel, S, 2; Tre Sterling, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB LD Brown, QB Shane Illingworth, S Tanner McCalister, LB Devin Harper, DE Tyler Lacy, CB Christian Holmes
Key Losses: RB Chuba Hubbard, WR Tylan Wallace, WR Dillon Stoner, OL Teven Jenkins, LB Calvin Bundage, LB Amen Ogbongbemiga, DB Rodarius Williams
Spencer Sanders has been inconsistent during his two years as OSU’s starting quarterback, but he is a great talent. Last year Sanders completed 62.8% of his passes for 2,007 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sanders ended the season strong, tallying 305 yards and four touchdowns against the Hurricanes. Brennan Presley had a huge bowl game as well and six of his seven catches and 118 of his 125 receiving yards came in that game. The hope is he can keep that up and join more veteran receivers like Braydon Johnson to form a solid group of pass catchers. The Cowboys have a lot of depth at running back despite losing Chuba Hubbard. Dezmon Jackson and LD Brown both had very productive seasons and will see their load increase in 2021. Dominic Richardson showed some potential as a freshman and Utah State transfer Jaylen Warren will add even more depth to the backfield.
The Cowboys defense took a big step forward last season, ranking 4th in the Big 12 allowing 379.0 yards per game. With eight starters returning and a lot of other experience, the unit could be even better in 2021. The front line is in good shape with pass rushers Trace Ford and Tyler Lacy leading the way. Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez led Oklahoma State with 82 tackles and will team up with Devin Harper. The secondary has plenty of experience and a superb playmaker in Kolby Harvell-Peel. Tre Sterling and Tanner McCalister are also very experienced safeties and cornerbacks Jarrick Bernard-Converse and Christian Holmes have potential.
The Bottom Line:
This should be another solid season for OSU. Coach Gundy has led the program to 15 straight bowl appearances and that streak will not end here. If Sanders can use his two years of experience and turn into a consistent passer to go along with his dynamic playmaking abilities, Oklahoma State will be looking for a lot more than simply a bowl appearance.
Projected Bowl:  Texas Bowl
2020 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 187.3 (45th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 239.5 (53, 6)
Total Offense: 426.8 (39, 5)
Scoring Offense: 30.2 (52, 5)
Rushing Defense: 160.1 (58, 6)
Pass Defense: 218.9 (47, 3)
Total Defense: 379.0 (44, 5)
Scoring Defense: 23.5 (34, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (60, 7)
Sacks: 3.00 (16, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.36 (80, 8)