Guerin Emig: Until the Cowboys figure out their offense and Mike Gundy doesn’t wait until Thursday of game week to figure out what to do at quarterback, their success depends on defensive playmakers. That has been Jason Taylor II. Now it’s Kendal Daniels.
Oklahoma State needs to beat Arizona State late Saturday night. The Sun Devils are picked to finish 10th in the Pac-12 Conference, have 50 new players and a new coaching staff, and self-imposed a bowl ban the week before their season opener. A tempest in Tempe.
But forget the Devils. More than anything, the Cowboys need to show us something about them, starting with the idea that they can compete in the Big 12 Conference this season.
Because the OSU team that needed fourth-quarter plays to beat FCS Central Arkansas last week will be lucky to finish 10th in the Big 12.
Here’s my breakdown of what to expect at Mountain America Stadium (since when??)…
One player: OSU safety Kendal Daniels
Get used to this, friends. Until the Cowboys figure out their offense and Mike Gundy doesn’t wait until Thursday of game week to figure out what to do at quarterback, their success depends on defensive playmakers. That has been Jason Taylor II the past couple years.
With Taylor on the L.A. Rams, now it’s Daniels.
OSU’s only takeaway against Central Arkansas came late in the first half at the end of a 20-yard completion. Daniels drifted back into centerfield during the play, then drifted into the path of UCA receiver Jarrod Barnes after Barnes beat Korie Black on the catch. Daniels joined Black for the tackle as Black stripped Barnes of possession.
Daniels picked up the loose ball on OSU’s 47-yard line and ran it to the UCA 28 to set up a field goal to make it 13-0 at halftime.
We didn’t think a whole lot of the play in the moment, figuring OSU would go on to win 45-0. We thought a lot more of it two hours later as the Cowboys held on to win 27-13.
Daniels should be on the prowl again Saturday night against an Arizona State offense as uncertain as OSU’s. The Sun Devils are still figuring out their offense with a freshman quarterback.
Expect Daniels to make more than one difference-making play this weekend.
One problem: Arizona State QB Jaden Rashada
Here’s that freshman quarterback. Like all rookies, Rashada will have to settle into the position. He showed some of that in ASU’s 24-21 squeaker over FCS Southern Utah last week in completing 18 of his 31 passes.
One of those throws went for 47 yards and a touchdown. That’s the type of play he’ll eventually make more often.
A five-star Under Armour All-American out of Pittsburg, California, Rashada seemed destined for Florida and an alleged $13 million NIL deal with a Gators collective. That hit a snag which got national attention last January, and Rashada wound up at Arizona State.
“He has video and a history of plays that I call ‘dynamic’ for his position,” Gundy said of Rashada this week. “Unfortunately we watched Kyler Murray do it. He did it in junior high and then in high school he did it and then in college… Those kinds of dynamic plays.”
While the Cowboys carry their quarterbacking uncertainty into Week 2, the Sun Devils tout a future star as their QB1.
One preposterous prognostication
This is the start of a beautiful rivalry.
Oklahoma’s defection to the SEC leaves Bedlam behind and OSU without a hated football rival. That’s one of the many shames of what has become College Football Inc.
Sometimes a program identifies a rival and makes it so. Think Colorado doing that to Nebraska when Bill McCartney took over the Buffs in 1982. Better to see a rivalry develop organically due to hotly contested games and hot tempers.
I have a feeling Saturday night could boil over.
Arizona State is in a nasty mood thanks to its own administration imposing a 2023 bowl ban days before the Southern Utah opener. Neither the Devils or the Cowboys feel good about their performances last week. Tensions rise and trash talk gets louder when players have something to prove.
It’s a tense night in Tempe Saturday, and it lingers into next year when Arizona State joins the Big 12 and becomes an early candidate for OSU’s new bitter rival.
One pick: Devils 29, Pokes 24