The Oklahoma State football team made such an impression on ABC announcers Bob Wischusen and Rod Gilmore that late in the Cowboys' 21-3 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon that they already were talking about them playing in the national championship game.
That's likely jumping the gun considering Mississippi State is only a middle of the pack SEC team and it's just the season opener.
Wischusen noted OSU's final four games included three home games against Kansas, Baylor and Oklahoma and a road game at Texas.
“This could be an undefeated Oklahoma State team very realistically with those three games at the end of the season,” Wischusen said. “You still got to go to Austin,”
Gilmore expected the Cowboys would move up in the poll. “They're 13 now. They have a chance to get into the top 10, and if they get to those three games at the end, they'll be in the discussion.”
Gilmore, who initially said he wasn't a fan of a two-quarterback system, said J.W. Walsh had wrapped up the top spot at least through the first four games with his strong showing Saturday in relief of Clint Chelf.
Gilmore noted that OSU coach Mike Gundy wanted to settle on his starting quarterback by the conference opener against West Virginia on Sept. 28. “The next two games (UT-San Antonio and Lamar) are easily winnable so Walsh should be the quarterback. There's not going to be anything in those games that will open it up for Chelf.”
He noted Walsh spurred a surprising run-oriented offense with his rushing skills in the option attack. “His athleticism has made the difference for Oklahoma State … Who says the Big 12 can't play physical football? It's a rush-oriented attack.”
Early on it wasn't pretty as the Cowboys and new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich struggled and Yurcich was shown in the press box,
“You think he is feeling a little pressure,” Gilmore said. “Here's a guy who went from making $50,000 a year at Shippensburg (University) to hitting the lottery and making $400,000 at Oklahoma State.”
Gilmore was impressed with the Cowboys' defense under new coordinator Glenn Spencer. “I haven't seen a defense this physical at all in Gundy's whole time. They are going toe to toe.”
After OSU stopped the Bulldogs on a third-and-2, Spencer was shown jumping up and down in glee.
“Hopefully he was this happy on his wedding day as well,” said Wischusen, noting that Spencer married ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards in July.
OU DEFENSE IMPRESSES
The OU defense earned high marks from announcers Ron Thulin, Dave Lapham and sideline reporter Chad McKee on the pay-per-view telecast in shutting out Louisiana-Monroe 34-0.
“When you pitch a shutout, everybody was in the right gap,” Lapham said in his postgame comments. “You dole out physical contact, and they did it all night long.”
Thulin singled out linebacker Corey Nelson with his eight tackles — two for a loss — and a sack as being a defensive leader.
Lapham also praised the linebacker play. “These guys are flying all over the field,” he said earlier in the game. “Mike Stoops (defensive coordinator) is a prideful guy. He wants the swagger to come back to the Oklahoma defense… Early returns are good.”
After a slow start in his OU debut, quarterback Trevor Knight drew praise for both his legs and arm. After his first touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders, Lapham said, “He put the ball on the money with some serious velocity. Since he is such a threat to run the football, you have to respect that with the pass rush.”
The announcers singled out fullback Trey Millard as the player of the game for his blocking ability and intangibles, and showed a highlight package of his top blocks. “He's a blue-collar outstanding football player with intangibles off the chart.”
Lapham predicted he would excel in the NFL. “He can be a fullback, tight end, H-back. He's going to be around the league for a long time.”
Roy Finch's 21-yard run was the play of the game as he reversed his field several times in eluding defenders. “He probably went 40 yards,” Thulin said. “I think he went 100,” Lapham said. ”He has tremendous vision and change of direction.”
OU's final score came on Knight's 13-yard pass to Trey Metoyer. “He's got the biggest hands,” Lapham said of the wide receiver. “They're like pillows with suction cups on.”
McKee interviewed OU president David Boren, athletic director Joe Castiglione and several OU coaches, but his biggest catch might have been two Louisiana-Monroe fans. Jep and Jessica Robertson discussed reasons for the popularity of their hit A&E show “Duck Dynasty.”
* On ESPN's “College GameDay,” OSU was a unanimous pick to win its opener and analyst Kirk Herbstreit expected it would be “a shootout.” The guest picker was Kansas State alum Eric Stonestreet of ABC's “Modern Family,” who showed up in his purple gear despite the Wildcats' upset loss to North Dakota State on Friday night.
* Although Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was suspended for the first half of the opener against Rice, ESPN almost covered him more than the game with numerous sideline shots.
* Fox Sports Oklahoma will replay the Louisiana-Monroe game at 9 a.m. Monday.