STILLWATER — We've reached the midpoint of the Oklahoma State season, with the Cowboys sitting at 5-1 (2-1 Big 12), ranked in the top 20 of both major polls and still very much alive in a wide-open conference title race.
Through the first six games, the Cowboys have made two quarterback switches. The defense has been stout. Special teams have sometimes been quite special, and other times, not so much.
As common in the world of college, let's hand out some midseason grades.
Who saw this coming before the season? It's impossible to pin the Cowboys' surprising offensive struggles on one person or one area. J.W. Walsh overtook Clint Chelf as the starting quarterback two series into the opener against Mississippi State and has been inconsistent throwing the football and largely bottled up running the ball during conference play. Chelf wasn't great after being reinserted against TCU, but does give the Cowboys more ability to throw down the field. The running game has been largely ineffective. The offensive line has holes. That leads to a unit that has slipped considerably compared to its production since installing the Air Raid spread in 2010. The Cowboys are averaging 440.2 yards and 35.7 points per game so far after averaging 547 yards and 45.7 points per game in 2012.
Glenn Spencer's revamped unit has largely held the Cowboys up while the offense has sputtered. OSU ranks second in the Big 12 with 16 takeaways, including 12 interceptions. Calvin Barnett has plugged the middle. Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey would be all-conference contenders if the season ended today. Justin Gilbert looks like a different player in the secondary after a disappointing 2012. The Cowboys rank in the top 4 in the Big 12 in scoring defense (18.3 points per game), rushing defense (117.5 yards per game) and total defense (355.2 yards per game).