In 2017, the Oklahoma State Cowboys pulled off their third consecutive 10-win season. The Cowboys beat the likes of Texas, West Virginia, and Iowa State on their way to finishing 6-3 in the Big 12. Oklahoma State then knocked off Virginia Tech in the Camping World Bowl for their 10th win of the season. Mike Gundy has now taken his team to 12 straight bowl games, making Oklahoma State one of the most consistent programs in the country.
The next step for Gundy and company is to challenge for a Big 12 championship, something Oklahoma State hasn’t done since 2011. However, many foresee a rebuilding year for the Cowboys, which could make it tough for them to keep moving forward.
The oddsmakers list Oklahoma State at +22,500 to win the national championship. That equates to less than one half of 1% chance, which does not make them a worthwhile betting option, even for the most optimistic better. However, the Cowboys are still projected to win eight games this season, so oddsmakers are giving them a chance to put together a solid season. But considering the strength of the Big 12, there’s a good chance Oklahoma State falls short of that projection.
The Cowboys are tasked with replacing a number of key players on offense. It starts with replacing quarterback Mason Rudolph. As many as four candidates are vying for the job. It’s possible there won’t be a clearcut winner by the time the season starts. Even if there is, it’s hard to believe anyone will be able to fill Rudolph’s shoes without a significant drop-off.
Making things all the more difficult will be the loss of wide receiver James Washington. The Cowboys have several good options at receiver, but they may not have a star like Washington in the mix. The saving grace could be running back Justice Hill, who was an All-Big 12 performer last year and may need to carry the Oklahoma State offense in 2018.
On the defensive side of the ball, Oklahoma State will return several key performers. However, the Cowboys haven’t been that strong on defense in recent years. They are also making the transition to a 4-2-5 scheme, which could lead to some growing pains. Now may not be a good time for the Cowboys to ask more of their defense. But that could be the case with so much uncertainty at the quarterback position.
It’d be hard to imagine Oklahoma State’s bowl streak ending this season. However, a step backward does appear inevitable after three straight 10-win campaigns. Oklahoma State should have enough talent to win six or seven games. But to guarantee any more than that is pushing it. They certainly don’t look like a team that will be a serious threat to reach the Big 12 Championship Game.
|Sep 8||South Alabama Jaguars||8:00 PM|
|Sep 15||Boise State Broncos||3:30 PM|
|Sep 22||Texas Tech Red Raiders||1:00 PM|
|Sep 29||@ Kansas Jayhawks||1:00 PM|
|Oct 6||Iowa State Cyclones||1:00 PM|
|Oct 13||@ Kansas State Wildcats||1:00 PM|
|Oct 27||Texas Longhorns||1:00 PM|
|Nov 3||@ Baylor Bears||1:00 PM|
|Nov 10||@ Oklahoma Sooners||1:00 PM|
|Nov 17||West Virginia Mountaineers||1:00 PM|
|Nov 24||@ Texas Christian Horned Frogs||1:00 PM|
If nothing else, the Cowboys will have a couple easy games early in the year to sort out their quarterback situation. But a Week 3 showdown against Boise State will be a legitimate test, even if the Cowboys start strong the first two weeks. Oklahoma State also needs to do its best to pile up the wins in September and October because the November schedule is brutal.
The Cowboys will finish the season with road games against Baylor, Oklahoma, and TCU. The only home game during that stretch is against West Virginia. If Oklahoma State doesn’t have bowl eligibility wrapped up by the end of October, they could struggle to finish the season 6-6. Even if things break well and the Cowboys find answers to their questions, they looked destined to be a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team in 2018.