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ESPN's Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit say Oklahoma State will need to start fast against Florida State

Fowler says Mixon’s season-long suspension will be huge loss for Sooners
by Mel Bracht Published: August 19, 2014

Fowler: For Oklahoma, Mixon is a huge loss. I think nationally some of us were surprised by the length of the suspension. You don’t know how a team or a school is going to handle that situation. He’s a guy that could have been the starter and would have been a meaningful contributor. You add that to some other guys who are in limbo and there are some major question marks for Oklahoma. It’s been a very troubling off-season for the program on many fronts. That’s a tough one. I will just tell you that the national reaction was surprised — didn’t feel like that it was inappropriate necessarily — just surprised that the suspension was for the whole year when you see a guy like (Ravens running back) Ray Rice who is going to sit, what, three games (actually two).

Herbstreit: The other thing is there seems like a lot of people that watched that game at the Sugar Bowl and watched probably one of the biggest upsets in the bowl season when they knocked off Bama 45-31. I think there’s an assumption that’s the Oklahoma team in 2014. I’m not here to say that it’s not. But remember, their top three running backs from a year ago aren’t there. They lost Jalen Saunders. They lost Jaz Reynolds, They lost those backs that caught the ball out of the backfield. Outside of Sterling Shepard, there isn’t a lot of experience on the perimeter. I know Bob Stoops recruits very well. But to just assume that the team that took the field in New Orleans is going to be the team that takes the field in 2014, they need to find some skill, which I’m sure they eventually will. But I don’t think it’s fair to just assume that Trevor Knight will play in 2014 the way he did that night with the supporting cast he had on that given night.

How big a deal for a team is having a championship game in earning a spot in the playoff?

Fowler: I think that it’s going to be very interesting to see how the stretch run unfolds, how the committee debate proceeds, what they choose to reward. The Big 12, though, is sort of on an island. They are the only Power Five (conference) without the conference championship game. I think people view that as a potential disadvantage when you look at resume to resume at the end of the year. You don’t have that chance to get a quality win. I think right now the Big 12 still feels like a conference in flux because people want them to add another team or two and the two teams that they brought in haven’t made a huge positive impact yet. But any conference to lose A&M and Missouri and Nebraska and Colorado in recent years and still be as strong and deep as they are, it’s a testament to them.

Herbstreit: Bob Stoops used to be pretty outgoing and outspoken about how it didn’t make sense that they had to play in the Big 12 championship game and the Big Ten and the Pac-10 at the time did not. Now it’s kind of ironic that here we are six or seven years later and the Big 12 is now the conference that is not playing in a conference championship game. And I’ll go back to his own logic: I think everybody should play in a conference championship game or I think nobody should play in a conference championship game. But I don’t think it’s necessarily fair when you have teams that are trying to get into the same goal of the Final Four when some teams have that bonus game and some teams do not. It’s never made sense to me, even before this new setup.

Fowler: Having said that, I think playing one more conference game and attempting across the board for the most part, with the exception of Baylor in that league, playing a challenging nonconference opponent or two does work in your favor.

by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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