The Pokes have added a couple of cupcakes to their non-conference schedule. According to FBSSchedules.com, the Cowboys will dole out $400,000 in guaranteed money to Missouri State in 2018 and $475,000 in guaranteed money to McNeese State in 2019.
— FBSchedules.com (@FBSchedules) June 29, 2017
The latest additions fill in the only open spots available for Oklahoma State’s 2018 and 2019 schedule. The Cowboys will open up against Missouri State next season before playing South Alabama and Boise State. In 2019, Oklahoma State gets McNeese State sandwiched between traveling to Oregon State and then Tulsa.
Let’s just be honest here, neither new addition is going to test Oklahoma State too much. There is nothing sexy about adding a couple of cupcakes to the schedule, but I love it. Not because I want to see the Pokes light up the scoreboard, but because in the Big 12, you have to win the non-conference and schedule warm up games only makes sense.
Outside perception of needing to schedule a bunch of tough non-con opponents stems from the fact that other Power 5 conferences don’t play nearly as tough a conference slate as the Big 12. For one, conferences like the ACC and SEC are currently only playing eight conference games where the Big 12 plays 9. Furthermore, other Power 5 teams can avoid playing the tougher competition in cross divisions depending on how the scheduling works out. In the Big 12, everybody plays everybody, year in and year out.
There is no room for error in the Big 12. The other side of the round-robin schedule means there are simply not as many undefeated or one-loss teams as other conferences may have. Scheduling tough non-con opponents only furthers the risk that the conference might not have an undefeated or one-loss champion, and therefore, appears to be weaker than the other Power 5 opponents. Even though, like last bowl season showed us, that isn’t really the case.
The Big 12 simply does not have to worry about strength of schedule, and winning the three games non-conference games could very well be the difference between going to the playoff, or even being bowl eligible. So, even if it isn’t the biggest drawl ticket-wise, at least they aren’t playing this games in week 12.