While Oklahoma State will look back on this season and wonder what could have been, the 58-14 thrashing of Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Tuesday offers some consolation.
Oklahoma State emerged victorious in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in much the same way it had won all season long: with its offense.
Despite losing quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon to the NFL in the offseason, the Cowboys averaged 45.7 points per game this season, good for third in the country.
Headed into Tuesday's game, Cowboys quarterbacks combined to average 8.7 yards per pass attempt (tied for 10th in the nation, via CFBStats.com) while posting 29 touchdowns. The running game, led by junior Joseph Randle, produced 5.41 yards per carry (12th) and 34 touchdowns (tied for 16th).
Of course, the defense was a different story and the reason why Oklahoma State finished the campaign with a ho-hum 8-5 record. In the Cowboys' five losses, opponents averaged 47.2 points. For the season, Oklahoma State ceded 28.2 points per contest, 63rd in the nation.
Oklahoma State actually averaged more points per game this season than in 2011 and still ended up with an 8-5 record (as opposed to the 12-1 record and Fiesta Bowl victory last season).
The good news is that the talent should still mainly be there on offense next season. The bad news is that the Cowboys continue to stockpile offensive recruits, while ignoring the defense.
Oklahoma State really only has landed one standout defensive recruit (defensive tackle Vincent Taylor) in the 2013 class, which makes you wonder if the Cowboys will ever significantly improve on defense...or at least be stuck needing to pile on the points for a few years.
Oklahoma State finished the 2012-2013 campaign strong, but the program can't expect to regularly rack up victories in the future unless it does something about the defense.
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