Commentary

Cowboys defying the numbers

Oklahoma State has an inside track to the title game, but it doesn't fit the profile

Originally Published: October 23, 2011
By Jeff Dooley | ESPN Insider
TBDBrett Deering/Getty ImagesTo win a title, the Cowboys will have to ride the right arm of Brandon Weeden.

One of the biggest winners from a BCS perspective this week was the Oklahoma State Cowboys, as they survived a scare from the Kansas State Wildcats and found themselves No. 2 in the BCS standings, a spot from which they hold coveted "control their own destiny" status. Oklahoma State's path is simple: Win three more games and make it to the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

The problem, however, as OSU seeks to navigate its remaining regular-season slate (at Texas Tech, at Iowa State, vs. Oklahoma) and a potential national title game, is that the Cowboys simply don't resemble a national champion. When comparing this team's statistical profile to those of past BCS champions (as we do each week with our Eliminator model, which tracks the BCS and conference races based on statistical benchmarks set by past champs), the Boys don't stack up. And there are some areas in which it's not even close.

OK State's concerns do not reside on the offensive side of the ball, as the unit led by Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon has been outstanding. The Cowboys rank second and ninth, respectively, in scoring offense and passing efficiency.

The defense, meanwhile, ranks 22nd nationally in passing efficiency defense and first in turnover margin (its sacks and tackles for loss, two stats that have correlated with college football success, are also impressive). Those turnover margin numbers are made possible by an FBS-leading 31 takeaways.

Those are the positives.