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OSU football: Examining the best-case, worst-case scenarios for the Cowboys this season

Will this season end back at the Fiesta Bowl for the second time in three years — or will this season end more like 2012, with the Cowboys finishing in a logjam in the second tier of the conference?
By Gina Mizell Published: August 18, 2013

Revamped defense

The 2011 unit thrived on forcing turnovers, leading the nation with 44 take-aways. The Cowboys are trying to get back to that aggressive style — tighter coverage, more pressure on the quarterback — under new coordinator Glenn Spencer. If the defense can create just a few more opportunities for the OSU's explosive offense, the Cowboys will be tough to beat.

Destination: Heart of Dallas Bowl

Lack of superstar power

This is no disrespect to Josh Stewart, Calvin Barnett, Shaun Lewis and Tracy Moore, who are all capable of earning All-Big 12 honors by season's end. But Gundy always talks about the “first-round picks” when assessing what separates a good team from a great team. OSU had two in Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon two years ago. That ability to take over games (Weeden in the second half at Texas A&M, Blackmon in the Fiesta Bowl, both at the end of the Kansas State thriller) is rare and special. Does OSU have that type of playmaker in 2013? Maybe. But to the degree of #Weeden2Blackmon? Not at this point.

No Quinn Sharp

Sharp's value as an elite kicking triple threat cannot be overstated. Currently, the Cowboys will have a true freshman (Ben Grogan) kicking field goals and a transfer who didn't play football last year (Kip Smith) kicking off. The punting job hasn't been filled yet. Grogan and Smith were both very highly regarded coming out of high school, but Sharp was as automatic as they come in all three roles.

Two new coordinators

There's no real reason to believe right now that Spencer and Mike Yurcich won't find success in their new roles on the OSU staff. But we won't know for sure until the games start. Granted, Todd Monken was a new offensive coordinator in 2011, and that worked out OK.