Oklahoma State is entering an unusual, but not unprecedented situation in their 15th season under head coach Mike Gundy; a need for a rebound.
After a disappointing 7-6 campaign that fortunately ended with a Liberty Bowl win over Missouri, OSU is looking to get back to the more familiar; winning games. Since 2010, Oklahoma State has had six season of at least 10 wins, including three straight from 2015 through 2017. But like that 2015 team, the Cowboys are hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 6-6 regular season.
Their 2019 schedule is sure to make an impact on whether or not OSU can get back into the upper echelon of the Big 12 conference. Today we take a look at the line-up of opponents to try and figure out if OSU can get back to their 10-win plateau.
2019 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
AUG 30 – at Oregon State
SEP 7 – McNeese State
SEP 14 – at Tulsa
SEP 21 – at Texas
SEP 28 – Kansas State
OCT 5 – at Texas Tech
OCT 12 – Off
OCT 19 – Baylor
OCT 26 – at Iowa State
NOV 2 – TCU
NOV 9 – Off
NOV 16 – Kansas
NOV 23 – at West Virginia
NOV 30 – Oklahoma
While going 3-0 in non-conference play doesn’t guarantee you’ll bounce back from a disappointing season (they went 3-0 last year), it’s certainly not a bad place to start.
This season, the Cowboys will try and achieve that goal by doing something they only done twice in the last 11 years; winning a non-conference true road game against a power-five opponent. The two occurrences were a 39-13 win over Washington State to open the 2008 season, and a 59-21 victory at Pitt in week three of the 2017 season.
This year they’ll open non-conference play on a Friday night against Oregon State — the other orange OSU — in Corvallis, Oregon. Luckily for the Cowboys, while the Beavers aren’t very good.
Oregon State went 2-10 in year one under Head Coach Jonathan Smith. While the offense was able to put up points at times — averaging 26.3 a game — their defense was atrocious, giving up 45.7 a game. While OSU is breaking in a new starting quarterback, a new offensive coordinator, new offensive line coach, and a completely new defensive line on the road, there’s plenty of reasons to believe they should come away with a W.
The rest of the non-conference portion isn’t anymore impressive. The Cowboys welcome FCS participant McNeese State to Stillwater in week two, before driving just 72 miles to the University of Tulsa for week three.
While going 3-0 against this non-conference slate probably won’t tell fans much of anything about how good — or bad — this year’s Oklahoma State team is, going 3-0 is always a good way to start the season. With that slate of games on the schedule, fans should expect just that.
The best way to look at Oklahoma State’s Big 12 slate for 2019, is in three parts. Thanks to two off-weeks (they are not bye-weeks) this season, OSU’s conference slate is split into three groups of three:
- At Texas, Kansas State, at Texas Tech
- Baylor, at Iowa State, TCU
- Kansas, at West Virginia, Oklahoma
Block one is difficult, especially when you have to open conference play on the road at a Texas team that should be in play for their best season in a decade. And while you would think the fact that OSU will be going for their sixth straight “W” in Austin and fifth win in a row in the series might make things easier, I imagine that’s only going to have Texas even more motivated to win. Kansas State is in rebuild which should help, and while Texas Tech is in a similar situation, Lubbock can be a tough place to play.
Block three is difficult. For one, traveling to Morgantown, West Virginia is never easy. Things can get wild out there in couch burning country and while this should be considered a “Year 0” for Neal Brown at West Virginia, by the end of the season he could very well have the team in a position to pull off an upset or two. Also, there’s that rivalry game against Oklahoma that the Cowboys are 2-12 in since Gundy took the helm of the program. Thank goodness for that Kansas game in there.
But to me, that second block is the make or break for the season. Baylor only has to play three games outside the state of Texas all season and will be looking for a signature win in year three of Matt Rhule. A road trip to Big 12 title game dark horse Iowa State ain’t going to be easy. Then, after playing the physical Cyclones, the Cowboys have to face off against one of the best defenses in the Big 12 in TCU. It’s the only Big 12 block that doesn’t have a nearly guaranteed “W” on it.
PREDICTED WINS: 7-9
Yeah, 7-9 is a broad range, but that’s because of the number of toss-up games for OSU. With their non-conference schedule and four new head coaches in Big 12 it’s easy to see OSU winning six or seven games.
But those games on the road in Lubbock and Morgantown and home games against Baylor and TCU could go either way. Should OSU be favored in three of those? Yeah, but the Cowboys are known to drop a game they shouldn’t. After last season, where they dropped a LOT of games they probably shouldn’t have, it’s fair to question how much they’ll be able to course correct their discipline and penalty issues from a year ago.
Personally, I see eight wins with loses to the top three, a loss in game they should be favored, and an upset over TCU (who will probably be favored in that game).