OSU: Would Fields have ranked No. 1?
I wrote today about Zac Robinson’s place in OSU history and how he has a chance — it will be difficult — to surpass Mike Gundy as the greatest quarterback in Cowboy history.
But here’s another debate. What if Josh Fields hadn’t gone to baseball after his junior year? What if Fields had come back for his senior season, 2004, and quarterbacked State? Where would he rank?
First, a refresher. Fields quarterbacked two seasons, 2002-03, plus a couple of games off the bench at the end of 2001. His record: 17-9. His victims: OU twice, Nebraska (OSU’s first over the Huskers since 1961), Texas A&M twice (OSU had been winless against the Ags in Big 12 play) and Southern Miss.
Fields set the school record for touchdown passes, 55, three more than Gundy. Fields threw for 6,090 yards; Gundy’s school record is 8,473. Gundy completed 636 passes; Fields completed 445.
Give Fields one more year, and it’s likely he would have broken most of Gundy’s records. But like I keep saying, you can’t go strictly by numbers. Fields played in the more pass-happy 2000s, not the 1980s, though Fields got in on the early days, not these wild, wild West days of the last few years.
Anyway, we also need to project how OSU would have done with Fields at quarterback in 2004. Those Cowboys went 7-5 with Donovan Woods, who was a solid freshman quarterback. They routed UCLA 31-20 in the opener and were 5-0 when they hosted Texas A&M on Oct. 16. And lost 36-20.
They also lost 38-35 in that Bedlam classic at Boone Pickens Stadium, 56-35 at Texas in that wild game in which OSU led 35-7, 31-15 at Texas Tech and 33-7 to Ohio State in the Alamo Bowl.
Where would Fields have made the difference? Two games, I say. With Fields, I believe OSU would have beaten A&M. Those Aggies were solid but not great; they finished 7-5, with a big loss to Tennessee in the Cotton Bowl. They took OU to the wire in College Station but lost at Baylor. Sixteen points is a lot to make up, but OSU was sluggish that night in Stillwater. No way would the Cowboys have been sluggish with Fields.
And despite how well Woods and the offense played in Bedlam, I think Fields would have produced a victory against the Sooners. OSU scored a ton anyway, and Fields wasn’t playing linebacker, but I’ve got to believe he would have found a way to produce four more points. If for no other reason than that late deep ball to Prentiss Elliott, which Woods sailed just beyond Elliott’s grasp, the Cowboys could have captured that Bedlam with Fields.
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