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CHRIS DUFRESNE ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Preseason college football rankings: No. 9 Oklahoma State

The Cowboys hope they're man enough to improve on last season's 11-2 record.

August 22, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, left, and quarterback Brandon Weeden share a laugh while posing for a photograph on Aug. 6. The Cowboys are among the favorites for the Big 12 title.
Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, left, and quarterback Brandon… (Sue Ogrocki / Associated…)

Mike Gundy turned 40 in 2007.

Everyone knows that because, during a postgame news conference rant, he famously challenged a reporter, "Come after me. I'm a man. I'm 40!"

Gundy is 44 now but remains head of the Passion Bucket Brigade. Gundy recently fired a contractor who showed at Gundy's house for work wearing an "Oklahoma Baseball" T-shirt.

The ensuing lawsuit filed alleges Gundy called the contractor a "stupid idiot" for wearing the shirt on "OSU soil." The man offered to turn his shirt inside-out, to no avail. That only meant the "stupid idiot" was wearing a shirt that read "llabesaB amohalkO."

Is it any wonder Oklahoma State cracked our top 10?

The Cowboys, one of last year's surprise teams at 11-2, are coming back to complete a Big 12 contracting project.

There are issues, for sure. A defense that wasn't so good last season loses five players from its front seven.

The offense lost coordinator Dana Holgorsen, now the head coach at West Virginia. Holgorsen, in one year, took Oklahoma State from average to tops in the Big 12 in scoring, passing and total offense (520 yards per game).

Todd Monken, who takes over for Holgorsen, last called plays as an Eastern Michigan assistant in the 1990s. The Daily Oklahoman asked readers to predict Monken's first call for the Sept. 3 opener against Louisiana Lafayette. An obvious prankster posting as "Dana in West Virginia" predicted "flea flicker."

Gundy says he's confident in Monken, a former Oklahoma State assistant and most recently receivers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"He doesn't have a lot of play-calling experience, but he's been very involved with it," Gundy said at Big 12 media day. "I'm confident he's a smart football coach. He works hard."

Oklahoma State isn't changing the offense, only the play-caller. No sense confusing players already adept at moving the ball. The Cowboys have to replace 1,500-yard rusher Kendall Hunter but return the potent pass-catch combination of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. Weeden passed for 4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns last year; Blackmon won the 2010 Biletnikoff Award after catching 111 passes, 20 for touchdowns.

Oklahoma State is looking to build on a school-record 11 wins that included a 36-10 Alamo Bowl victory over Arizona. The Cowboys, coincidentally, play host to Arizona in Stillwater on Sept. 8. The other key dates are away games at Tulsa, Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri.

With no more championship game in the Big 12, the Dec. 3 home game against Oklahoma could decide the league's Bowl Championship Series bid.

That could be "Bedlam."

The countdown so far: 25. Texas; 24. Georgia; 23. Arkansas; 22. Arizona State; 21. West Virginia; 20. Auburn; 19. Ohio State; 18. USC; 17. Michigan State; 16. Florida; 15. Virginia Tech; 14. Texas A&M; 13. Texas Christian; 12. South Carolina; 11. Notre Dame; 10. Louisiana State.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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