Each year in our football preview, we have a picks grid with various categories about the Cowboys’ upcoming season.
With the 2012 season in the books, I thought it would fun to dig out my predictions and see how correct (or…incorrect) they were.
Remember that our special section had an election theme, which explains the categories.
The candidate (MVP): Joseph Randle
This was the safe pick, obviously, but the correct one. During a season where injuries created a revolving door at quarterback, knocked out OSU’s top wide receiver (Tracy Moore) and hit many other offensive skill players, Randle was durable and consistent and the Big 12′s best running back. He finished the season with more than 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The running mate (best player): Justin Gilbert
Whiffed here, didn’t I? But I, like many, thought Gilbert would continue to develop into a shutdown cornerback and continue to be a big-play threat on special teams. You know what happened. Zero interceptions. Too much cushion given to receivers. The occasional benching. OSU announced Sunday that Gilbert will return for his senior season, so he’ll have a chance to redeem himself. He certainly has the measurable skills to be an All-Big 12 player and a legitimate NFL prospect.
The dark horse (most overlooked): Daytawion Lowe
Back on the right track. Lowe led the Cowboys with 75 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, four pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. And he probably still qualifies for the “overlooked” category. Yes, the OSU secondary struggled in 2012, particularly down the stretch. But Lowe was solid.
The newcomer (best new player): Calvin Barnett
Another good pick. Barnett was voted the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year by the league’s coaches after a season where he recorded 30 tackles (8.5 for loss), one sack, four quarterback hurries and one pass breakup. The big defensive tackle made an immediate impact up front and helped solidify OSU’s rushing defense.
Touchdown/interception prediction for Wes Lunt: 17/8
Way off. Or incomplete, at best. Obviously, no one saw Lunt’s injury-riddled season coming. But the three OSU quarterbacks — Lunt, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf — combined to throw 34 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. I had a couple reasons Lunt’s low touchdown projection. I thought Randle would pick up more of scores — 14 touchdowns is solid, but way off his 26 from 2011. I also thought we’d see the Walsh package for the entire season, and the rushing and passing touchdowns that would bring. Injuries to Lunt and Walsh himself derailed that until the stretch run.
Biggest game: At Oklahoma
This was a gigantic game for the Cowboys, who were still in the conversation for an at-large BCS berth two days after Thanksgiving. And it was a classic game, one OSU controlled until the final minutes. Then the Cowboys lost at Baylor, and slipped to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Overall record: 9-4
One game off OSU’s final record of 8-5.
Bowl projection: Alamo
Sort of correct? Sure looked like this is where the Cowboys could have been headed if Northern Illinois hadn’t crashed the BCS. Instead, the Cowboys were passed over by the Buffalo Wild Wings, Holiday, Meineke Car Care of Texas and Pinstripe Bowls after OU fell to the Cotton and Texas to the Alamo.