With a nod to Pat Forde's annual March Madness dream and nightmare scenario piece, we've been coming up with the dream and nightmare scenarios for every Big 12 team. Of course, reality will fall somewhere in the middle. But imagine a season in which every single possible domino fell into place. And likewise, if all that could go wrong, well, did.
We continue with the Oklahoma State Cowboys:
The Cowboys get off to a 3-0 start without really breaking a sweat, earning easy double-digit wins over Central Michigan, Central Arkansas and Texas San-Antonio. The best news for the Pokes is the quick early start from Chris Carson, who solidifies the running back spot with 287 rushing yards through three games.
OSU wins its fourth straight game in Austin, Texas as sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph throws for 357 yards and three touchdowns in a Cowboys victory over Texas and Charlie Strong followed by wins over Kansas State, West Virginia and Kansas to extend the season opening win streak to seven games.
But Halloween is unkind to Mike Gundy's team.
Kliff Kingsbury's Red Raiders upset the Cowboys on Oct. 31 after Texas Tech debuts a two-quarterback system that catches OSU off guard, resulting in a 42-38 Tech victory.
OSU rebounds the following weekend, taking down TCU and Trevone Boykin in a game that mimics the great TCU-Baylor battle of 2013. The triple overtime battle features 13 combined touchdowns including six from Boykin and six from Rudolph. But a Kevin Peterson interception decides the game as the Cowboys escape with a 62-56 win.
After a win at Iowa State, Rudolph takes his game to another level in wins over Baylor and Oklahoma, passing for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns to spark wins over BU and OU to secure a Big 12 title.
The Gundy dance returns during a post-Bedlam celebration as the veteran coach, who had promised to do the dance at midfield if the Cowboys won, does the dance in front of the Boone Pickens Stadium crowd right before his postgame on-field interview. And sends the internet ablaze with Gundy gifs and memes.
OSU's 11-1 record earns them a playoff berth but the No. 4 seed proves too much to overcome as top-seeded Ohio State ends the Cowboys season in the semifinals. But Rudolph heads into the offseason as a potential Heisman candidate in 2016 and the Cowboys become one of the offseason's “it” teams with many calling them national title favorites.
Rudolph stumbles out of the blocks, throwing interceptions in each of the Cowboys first three games as his inexperience rears its head. Despite a 3-0 start, a quarterback controversy erupts after JW Walsh looks terrific in a backup role.
The controversy casts a cloud over OSU's first Big 12 game at Texas and another slow start from Rudolph results in Walsh taking his place but the senior can't rally the Pokes from a two-touchdown deficit in a 45-38 loss.
With Walsh at the helm, the Cowboys rebound with a win over Kansas State the following week but a trip to Morgantown, West Virginia sees Dana Holgorsen's squad hand the Pokes a second loss and sparks Gundy to turn back to Rudolph under center.
After the game Gundy, in a odd turn of events, has both quarterbacks speak to the media and apologize to Cowboys fans for their five combined turnovers in the losses to UT and WVU.
The ploy seems to work initially as Rudolph leads OSU to back-to-back wins to head into November with hope and a 6-2 mark. But OSU is no match for TCU, Baylor and OU in the final four games of the season as the Cowboys offense -- with Rudolph and Walsh each taking turns in charge -- can't keep up and the defense feels left out to dry in a stretch that is eerily similar to the five-game losing streak in 2014.
The Cowboys finish 7-5 but end the regular season with a much different vibe then a year ago.
A Liberty Bowl win over Florida gives Gundy's program another eight-win season but disappointment surrounds the team heading into the offseason as the uncertainty at the quarterback position lingers.