STILLWATER — Oklahoma State closed its 2012 season in convincing fashion, throttling Purdue 58-14 in the Heart of Dallas bowl to finish with an 8-5 record.
Before the bowl game, coach Mike Gundy called the journey a roller coaster. And in a lot of ways, it was.
The Cowboys sustained several key injuries, particularly at quarterback, where three different players started and won Big 12 games. They lost two conference games in the final minute of regulation or overtime. They tumbled from BCS aspirations to the bowl that picks eighth in the Big 12 pecking order in an eight-day span.
Here's a look back at the 2012 season:
Offensive MVP: Joseph Randle
For an offense that went through more than its fair share of injuries, Randle was consistently ready in the backfield. And, once again, he was consistently productive. He finished with more than 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns and was an All-Big 12 selection. Now, he has a decision to make about whether he will return for his senior season or enter the NFL Draft.
Defensive MVP: Calvin Barnett
His numbers aren’t eye-popping, but he was the immediate force on the interior the Cowboys expected him to be before the season — and perhaps even more. The Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year tallied 30 tackles (8.5 for loss), one sack, four quarterback hurries and one pass breakup and was a key contributor for an OSU rushing defense that ranked 36th in the nation, allowing just more than 140 yards per game.
Free safety Daytawion Lowe, who led the team with 75 tackles and also tallied two interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery (for a touchdown) and four pass breakups, also deserves a tip of the hat.
Biggest surprise: Clint Chelf
This could, really, go to the entire quarterback position, which kept the Cowboy offense rolling despite consistent change. But who saw Chelf's improbable rise from third-teamer to bowl MVP coming? He stepped in when Wes Lunt sustained a concussion against Kansas State in early November, and went on to start the final five games and beat West Virginia, Texas Tech and Purdue. Gundy gave the junior another endorsement after the bowl game, saying Chelf will be the No. 1 quarterback when spring football begins.
Biggest disappointment: Cornerback play
Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert were touted as the Big 12's best cornerback duo entering the season — and for good reason. They combined for 10 interceptions last year and were an integral part of OSU's big-play defense. But in 2012, neither Brown nor Gilbert picked off an opposing quarterback. And they both gave up too many plays through the air, whether it was over the top in the early part of the season or by allowing a large cushion on short and intermediate routes down the stretch. OSU ranked 112th in the nation in pass defense this season, allowing nearly 286 yards per game.