Oct 21, 2023; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys running back Ollie Gordon II (0) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

After getting only 19 carries in three non-conference games, OSU running back Ollie Gordon has surged into contention for the major college rushing title. (Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

Ollie Gordon still has a shot at the national rushing crown

Ollie Gordon still has a shot at the national rushing crown

Jenni Carlson's Game Day in Oklahoma: How Ollie Gordon could win the national rushing title despite 19 non-conference carries

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Oct 28, 2023, 11:00am CDT

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Oct 28, 2023, 11:00am CDT

STILLWATER — Ollie Gordon’s numbers are insane.

The 282 rushing yards last week at West Virginia, you know about. But there are some stats that the Oklahoma State running back has put up that are truly crazy when you consider the numbers he had early in the season.

Nineteen carries for 109 yards in three non-conference games.

Nineteen

That falls in the category of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Thankfully, Mike Gundy and his offensive staff came to their senses, and in the past three games, Gordon has gotten more carries in each of those games (21, 29, 29) than he had combined in the first three games of the season. 

But what Gordon has done with those carries (136 rushing yards, 168, 282) has been remarkable.

Here’s how remarkable: he now ranks eighth nationally in total rushing yards (816) and fifth nationally in rushing yards per game (116.6).

Gordon might not be able to win the rushing title in major-college football, but it isn’t out of the question. He’s only 135 yards behind Troy’s Kimani Vidal, who leads the country with 951 yards.

And no one ahead of Gordon is averaging as many yards a carry (7.03) as he is, so it’s not crazy to think he could get to that top spot.

Sounds as though the Cowboy coaches won’t be the ones holding back Gordon like they did early in the season.

“I don’t want to pull him back yet,” Gundy said earlier this week. “We’ll let him roll.”

Here are some other tasty nuggets for you to chew on before OSU’s game against Cincinnati gets under way at 7 p.m.:

Cowboy to watch: Other than Ollie Gordon? I’m going with Kendal Daniels. The third-year safety is playing some high-level football. His grade for the West Virginia game, according to Pro Football Focus: 83.1. (Basically, anything above 80 is spectacular.) Despite Cincinnati’s 2-5 record, the Bearcats offense isn’t bad. It is averaging 444.9 yards a game, ranking 25th in the nation. Daniels has been a play snuffer outer, and he could play an outsized roll Saturday. 

Cowboy newcomer to watch: Even though Ollie has been taking up all the oxygen around Cowboy football, Alan Bowman has been really good during this three-game winning streak. He’s thrown for an average of 260.3 yards and completed 63.4 percent of his attempts. What’s more, he’s only thrown one interception and been sacked once combined in those three games. That high-level play has been helped by Gordon’s production, but still, Bowman seems to be hitting a stride.

Bearcat to watch: Wide receiver Xzavier Henderson has 38 catches this season, third most in the Big 12. His total receiving yardage won’t blow you out of the water — he has 496 yards while Houston’s Samuel Brown, who leads the league with 41 catches, has 629 yards — but Henderson is Emory Jones’ go-to. And considering the youth in the Cowboy secondary, OSU had best know where Henderson is at all times.

A familiar face in Stillwater: Even though Cincinnati is new to the Big 12 and hasn’t played OSU since 1983, Bearcat quarterback Emory Jones played a game in Boone Pickens Stadium just last year. He was the starting quarterback at Arizona State a season ago, and in a 34-17 loss to the Cowboys, he was 12 of 24 for 223 yards and one touchdown. Jones transferred to Cincy this past offseason.

Cool stat going into OSU-Cincinnati: OSU has only turned the ball over twice during its current three-game winning streak. In those games, the Cowboys have also forced eight turnovers. Averaging a plus-two in the turnover margin is winning football.

Something to watch in Stillwater: Even though Cincinnati has only won two games this season, the Bearcats statistically have a better offense and a better defense than the Cowboys. Cincy’s offense averages 444.9 yards, ranking 25th nationally, while OSU’s averages 404.4 yards, ranking 58th. The Cincinnati defense allows just 343.1 yards a game, which ranks fourth nationally, while OSU allows 404.6 yards, ranking 101st.

Did you know?: Two years ago, OSU and Cincinnati were vying for the final spot in the College Football Playoff. They entered conference-championship-game week ranked fourth (Cincy) and fifth (OSU) in the playoff rankings. Had both won their league title games, it’s anyone’s guess who would’ve gotten the nod, but OSU lost to Baylor in the Big 12 title game while Cincy beat Houston in the AAC title game. The next day, the Bearcats became the first non-Power Five program to make the playoff.

If you go to Stillwater …: Get there early and enjoy homecoming. Pretty much every college does homecoming, but at OSU, it actually matters. A lot. The parade starts at 9 a.m., then with time before OSU’s 7 p.m. kickoff, go check out the house decorations. It won’t be the same as seeing them Friday evening during Walkaround, but the massive displays are worth seeing.

If you don’t go …: The nation’s leading rusher, Kimani Vidal from Troy, plays at 6 p.m. I’d check him out for an hour, then tune into the OSU game. Get a sense of how Gordon and Vidal compare.

If I could be in two places: Colorado at UCLA intrigues me. Yes, it’s partially about the Deion factor, but more than that, I can’t quite figure out what’s gotten into the Buffs. Losing to Southern Cal? Understandable. Losing to Stanford? Yikes. I know the rebuilding process doesn’t happen overnight, but still, I’m curious how the Buffs rebound.

Playing favorites: There’s something really cool about the halftime of homecoming games at Stillwater. The winners for house decorations are announced, and it’s a huge production. In the stands, huge groups of students go nuts when their entry is announced as the winner while on the field, representatives from the groups sprint on and off the field to have their pictures taken. It’s a big deal, and the whole scene is a reminder of that.

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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