STILLWATER — We've reached the halfway point of the Oklahoma State regular season, a time in college when there's often significant evaluation.
It's been a sometimes inconsistent 2012 for the Cowboys, going 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12 through their first six games in the season following a historic 2011 campaign.
And injuries, especially at quarterback, have been a dominant storyline. First, true freshman starter Wes Lunt went down with a left knee/ankle injury on Sept. 15. Then came Sunday evening's stunning news that backup-turned-starter J.W. Walsh had played through a season-ending knee injury he sustained in the first quarter of Saturday's victory over Iowa State.
Here's a midseason progress report — a midterm, if you will — for the Cowboys.
Best win: Iowa State
The Cowboys put together their most complete performance of the season against ISU, a squad that came into the game ranked 24th in the first BCS standings and the team that squashed OSU's national title hopes last season.
The defense dominated an offense it probably should have handled, allowing just 10 points and making 11 consecutive stops after the first quarter.
And Walsh was much-improved in the passing game — even without starting receivers Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson — throwing for 415 yards, the ninth-best total in school history. That performance becomes even more impressive now, given that he was playing on a knee that is hurt enough to sideline him for the remainder of the season.
Worst loss: at Arizona
With how poorly Texas' defense has played this season, it could be argued that the Cowboys should have simply won that game, controversial touchdown call or not.
But OSU self-destructed in Tucson in Week 2, committing 15 penalties for a school-record 167 yards and turning the ball over four times. Arizona has struggled since that game, going 1-3 in Pac-12 play so far. That makes the loss look worse.
Best offensive player: Joseph Randle
With Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon moving onto the NFL, Randle needed to become the Cowboys' go-to offensive player this season. And he has, ranking eighth in the nation in rushing yards (127.50 per game) and scoring eight touchdowns so far.
Randle also continues to climb in OSU's record book. His 2,433 career rushing yards ranks 12th in school history, while his 34 rushing touchdowns are tied with Tatum Bell for fifth all-time at OSU.