Cowboys relying on Ollie Gordon in Big 12 play like never before in the Mike Gundy era

Cowboys relying on Ollie Gordon in Big 12 play like never before in the Mike Gundy era

Sam Hutchens: Ollie Gordon is Oklahoma State’s operating system. That is plain for all, including Texas’ coaches, to see. Statistically, OSU hasn’t relied on a player this much in a long time. He has accounted for over 40% of OSU’s yardage in Big 12 play. That’s a mark that someone at OSU hasn’t bested in almost 30 years.

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

| Dec 1, 2023, 10:30am CST

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

Dec 1, 2023, 10:30am CST

After Oklahoma State’s demolition of Cincinnati where running back Ollie Gordon amassed 271 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, OSU offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn gave a matter-of-fact summary of OSU’s offense. 

Or maybe it was a warning.

“You’ve got to start there with Oklahoma State right now,” Dunn said. “You’ve got to stop Ollie.”

Dunn’s sentiment remains true. Entering the Big 12 Championship Game against Texas, Gordon leads the country with 1,580 rushing yards and eight 100-yard games. Gordon is second nationally in total touchdowns (21) and all-purpose yards (1,852). Wednesday, he earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors.

After getting just 25 total touches in OSU’s first three games, Gordon has reoriented the offense. He has averaged 28 touches per game in Big 12 play.

“I think at this point, I would guess (Texas’) coaches know we’re going to do what we do,” coach Mike Gundy said.

Gordon is Oklahoma State’s operating system.

 

It’s no secret either. Since the Cowboys unleashed him against Iowa State in their Big 12 opener, he has amassed 1,698 total yards. That is 40.1% of OSU’s total yards in Big 12 play.

For comparison, OSU’s offense last season was not built around one player. Receiver Brennan Presley led OSU with 825 total yards, just 15.4% of the team’s total. 

Even compared to top seasons from other OSU playmakers, Gordon’s usage stands out. 

When Chuba Hubbard electrified college football in 2019 with 2,094 rushing yards, he accounted for 38.8% percent of OSU’s total yardage; slightly below what Gordon has done in Big 12 play.

Receiver Justin Blackmon had a school-record 1,782 receiving yards in 2010, but it was just 26.3% of that high-flying offense’s total yardage.

You have to go back to 1995, when David Thompson rushed for 1,509 yards (40.7% of OSU’s total) to find someone supplanting what Gordon has done since taking the reins. Of course, In 1988, Barry Sanders accounted for 51% of OSU’s yards en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. 

“Gordon is a heck of a player,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian told reporters earlier this week. “They have done a great job offensively of leaning into him.”

Dunn said even when Gordon doesn’t carry the ball, his presence opens OSU’s offense and creates one-on-one matchups for Presley and other receivers.

“Everybody is trying to load the box and stop him,” Dunn said. “The RPO (run-pass option) game becomes big.”

Gordon has welcomed the workload.

“I love carrying the weight on my shoulders,” Gordon said. “The fact that they are giving it to me, and I got to work for it, it just makes me more hungry to produce.”

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Sam Hutchens covers Oklahoma State sport for Sellout Crowd. He interned for The Stillwater News Press in 2021 and The Guthrie News Leader in 2022, where he won a first-place OPA award for in-depth reporting. He has also covered sports in southwest Oklahoma for The Lawton Constitution. He strives to tell you the OSU sports stories that you want to tell your friends about. You can email him at [email protected] and connect on Twitter (X) @Sam_Hutchens_

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