OFF THE RIM: Plenty to watch for in Cheez-It Bowl

Associated Press Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace said he plans to play in Tuesday’s Cheez-It Bowl. It will be his final game as a Cowboy.

Somehow we’ve reached this annual time where college football reigns supreme for a handful of days, despite so much offseason turmoil and an ongoing pandemic.

No. 21 Oklahoma State and No. 18 Miami will square off at the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday. It wasn’t where Cowboy fans wanted to be, but maybe we should all be thankful we got to this point and be thankful sports are still existing in some fashion.

The Cowboys will be continuing to develop young talent for the future while also saying goodbye to others who gave years of their lives to the OSU program. Two consistent wide receivers who are different but talented will take the field one final time as college teammates.

Hopefully the Cowboys are as healthy as possible, especially on the defensive side of the ball, as they enter the game.

There are many storylines and things to watch Tuesday, but here are a few to follow.

1st Down: How will Tylan Wallace amaze us once more?

The Biletnikoff Award snub will grace the college football field once more, and we should all take notice. Wallace isn’t the tallest or fastest receiver in the country, but he is tall and fast enough to become a talented pro at the next level.

It’s almost a bit surprising Wallace wants to play in the bowl game when other players are opting out to prepare for the NFL. Wallace simply said he wants to go out with his guys and play one final time as a Cowboy.

Maybe he wants to show NFL scouts that his knee is fine to keep his stock from falling. Or maybe he wants to enjoy one last college game in case things don’t work out at the next level. Seems hard to believe he wouldn’t do well in the NFL, but you never know.

Whatever the reason, it will be fun to watch him one more time. He’s given OSU fans plenty of highlights to remember, and plenty for opposing coaches to be happy his college days are almost complete.

Here’s to hoping we see some more amazing plays and Wallace stays healthy. His future seems bright.

2nd Down: How will OSU defense handle dual-threat QB?

Facing quarterbacks who are dangerous with their arms and legs is nothing new to Big 12 teams, in fact, it’s almost a requirement to be good in the college game these days. So, OSU should be prepared for another one in the bowl game.

Miami QB D’Eriq King, who transferred from Houston before the 2020 season, has the dual-threat ability to lead the Hurricanes. He has thrown for 2,573 yards and ran for 520 more.

King is the ’Canes second-leading rusher and has broken a 56-yard run this season. He has rushed for four scores, while throwing 22 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

The OSU defense smothered Baylor’s Charlie Brewer in its last game, but allowed TCU’s Max Duggan to throw for 265 and run for 104 in a loss the previous game. The Cowboys can’t allow King to run loose or it could be a long game.

3rd Down: Can Sanders play turnover free game?

The Cowboys’ last outing – a win at Baylor – was arguably the best of the season for redshirt sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders. His game against Texas could be argued as his best, but the Cowboys beat Baylor.

Sanders found senior Dillon Stoner early and often before finishing the game completing 20 of 30 passes for 347 yards. Sanders had three touchdown passes, but he also had two more interceptions.

That brought his season total to eight – just two below his passing touchdown total. Not good.

Sanders has thrown an interception in six of eight games, including the past four – where he has five touchdowns and five picks.

Avoiding mistakes and turnovers has to be improved upon as he works toward next year. Showing he can play turnover free in the bowl game would be a good start.

4th Down: What will be the final memory of the 2020 season?

This one is much more difficult to predict, obviously. An OSU win might be just enough icing on the cake to keep fans satisfied and keep the lynch mob away after a much-anticipated season went awry with another Bedlam defeat and two more losses that followed.

However, a loss could be the icing on the cake for those wanting major changes in the program. A loss would result in a 7-4 season and another defeat by a top-25 team.

OSU beat only one team in the top five of the Big 12 standings. The five other wins came from the bottom five teams in the conference. Just beating the worst of the Big 12 shouldn’t be enough for fans to be satisfied with this program.

I don’t foresee any major changes to the program or coaching staff, but I have no insider information either way. Another winning season and a bowl bid will probably be enough for the ones in charge.

But should those be enough? I guess it depends how you view this program and where it could go after the incredible turnaround Coach Gundy has completed.

Is this the program’s ceiling? Or can it take the next step, win the Big 12 and contend for a playoff spot?

Jimmy Gillispie is a sports reporter for the Stillwater News Press. He can be contacted at jgillispie@stwnewspress.com.

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