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December 9, 2010

Riding High: Two Pokes win national awards

A big season for Oklahoma State football just got a little bit bigger Thursday night.

Two of the key pieces of the Cowboys' 10-2 season were honored by winning individual awards at the College Football Awards show that aired nationally on ESPN.

Wide receiver Justin Blackmon won the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the top wideout annually. Kicker Dan Bailey won the Lou Groza award.

Both players winning awards on the national stage serves to highlight their individual performances as well as the OSU program as a whole. The Cowboys, who will play in the Alamo Bowl against Arizona later this month, have been in the limelight all season long, right down to having its best shot ever to win the Big 12 South just a few weeks ago.

Even though the team fell short of that, it was individual efforts like Blackmon's and Bailey's that got OSU football on the cusp it was. Previously named the 2010 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Blackmon enjoyed a huge season in Stillwater, making 102 catches for 1,665 yards and 11 touchdowns in as many games. He went for over 100 yards in every game, with a high mark of 207 yards on only 10 catches in the win over Texas Tech. His highest single-game touchdown total came in the first game of the season against Washington State, reeling in three scores. His presence was sorely missed when the Pokes traveled to Manhattan and the offense sputtered half of the game before putting together a 24-14 victory over Kansas State. He beat out Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles and Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina.

As for Bailey, he's been a stable force in the OSU offense all season long. The Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, he converted 24 of 28 field goal attempts and 65 of 66 extra points - the only miss coming against Texas. The former walk-on now holds the school record in scoring at 358, while also holding marks for most consecutive extra points in a row in school history (182) and most field goals in a season (24).

Both players contributed to what ended up being the top offense in the nation statistically. On the year, OSU finished No. 1, averaging 537.58 yards per game. The Pokes came in second nationally in passing offense (354.67 ypg) and third in scoring offense (44.92 points per game). That offense went a long way in breaking some longtime nasty streaks OSU had been fighting for years. The Cowboys posted their first wins over both the Red Raiders and Longhorns since the World War II era, in part because of the offense of Dana Holgorsen, who now has his name bantered about as possible head-coaching material this offseason.


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