OSU-UCF: One player, one problem, one preposterous prediction and one pick

OSU-UCF: One player, one problem, one preposterous prediction and one pick

Guerin Emig: We have known of Ollie Gordon’s strength and value since OSU began its winning streak. Now that those nationally are noticing the Cowboys, they are noticing Gordon.

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

| Nov 10, 2023, 6:00am CST

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

Nov 10, 2023, 6:00am CST

Oklahoma State, with five straight wins, a No. 15 College Football Playoff ranking and fresh off a Bedlam triumph, is barely favored at UCF, a team with a 1-5 Big 12 record. 

What’s up with that

Mike Gundy has some ideas.

“We’re playing a team that’s number one in rush offense (in the Big 12), that’s averaging 5.7 yards per rush,” he began at his Monday press conference. “How about this —  they’re 50 percent on third down conversions. They only have 51 yards a game in penalties. Their coach has coached about as many years as I have, probably more than me when you consider high school. The guy understands offensive football and he’s had tremendous success everywhere he’s been.

“They were ahead of Kansas State in the fourth quarter. They were ahead of OU late. They were both road games. And they had every chance in the world to beat Baylor.”

Gundy inferred that the Cowboys will take any win they can get in Orlando Saturday afternoon. 

So how to go about that? 

One player: Ollie Gordon

The most obvious call all season.  

I had Chris Vannini on my Mind Games podcast this week. He covered Bedlam for The Athletic and is part of a weekly Heisman Trophy straw poll undertaken by Athletic writers and editors. 

Vannini said he put Gordon second in his Heisman ranking behind Washington quarterback Michael Penix. (Gordon is fourth in the straw poll behind Penix, Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix.) 

We have known of Gordon’s strength and value since OSU began its winning streak. Now that those nationally are noticing the Cowboys, they are noticing Gordon. Pretty cool.

And very important that the Cowboys keep feeding their trail boss. That should not be a problem against UCF.

The Knights beat Cincinnati 28-26 last week for their first Big 12 win but still allowed two Bearcat runners to eclipse 100 yards. That dropped them to 127th in FBS run defense. Only North Texas, Georgia Tech and Louisiana Tech are worse. 

Cincinnati backs Corey Kiner and Ryan Montgomery combined for 227 yards. Make 227 the over/under number for Gordon then. 

Assuming OSU grabs a halftime lead and chooses to milk the clock to keep UCF’s offense off the field, Gordon might rack up 227 in the second half alone. 

One problem: UCF’s warning shot against the Sooners

The Knights could have (should have?) won in Norman on Oct. 21, when they showed how dangerous they can be before falling 31-29

John Rhys Plumlee was sick and still recovering from a knee injury, according to Malzahn, but hung in and quarterbacked UCF to a 23-17 fourth-quarter lead.

Plumlee threw a clever 86-yard touchdown pass to Javon Baker after suckering OU’s covering defender with a run-pass option, a perfectly executed play that was vintage Malzahn. 

RJ Harvey was as impressive as Plumlee in gashing the Sooners for 101 rushing yards. There were times you’d swear he was UCF’s best player. 

Maybe he is.

Harvey rushed for a career-high 164 yards at Cincinnati, his fourth straight triple-digit output. He is up to 876 on the year, third-most in the Big 12 behind Gordon and Texas’ Jonathon Brooks.

Harvey should have OSU’s full attention this week based on what he has done, and on the fact that OU runners Gavin Sawchuk and less-than-100 percent Tawee Walker combined for 170 yards in Bedlam. 

One preposterous prediction: Gordon’s signature performance

Gordon has become the face of the Cowboys not just because he leads the country in rushing on one of the country’s hottest teams. It’s also his adorable streak. 

I can attest that Gordon is the Cowboy most likely to tease a teammate being interviewed after practice or a game. He bantered with quarterback Alan Bowman during their post-Bedlam media sessions even though they were on different sides of the room. 

Those attending OSU’s women’s basketball game Wednesday saw Gordon pose for pictures with the school kids in attendance while cheering the Cowgirls to victory. 

“I’m not surprised,” OSU coach Jacie Hoyt said afterward, “because I think he’s a phenomenal human being.”

Saturday in Orlando, Gordon rushes for another 250 yards and then hangs out with kids in UCF jerseys, happily signing autographs for them en route to the team bus. Winning over the country another section of it at a time. 

One pick: OSU 38, UCF 30

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Guerin Emig is a columnist for the Sellout Crowd network. Read his work at selloutcrowd.com and guerinemig.com. Reach out with feedback and/or ideas at [email protected] or (918) 629-6229. Follow him on Twitter at @GuerinEmig and Instagram at @guerin.emig. .

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