With the season just over a week away from starting, coaches, players, administrators, boosters and fans all have dreams of making the College Football Playoff. For the Big 12, I believe you can make an argument for six teams having that magical season that ends up in either to Rose Bowl or the Sugar Bowl this year. Over the next several days, in no particular order, I will make that case for each of those six teams, which are, alphabetically (the one with links we have previously written):
Last but not least, let’s get to the Oklahoma State Cowboys
No Central Michigan-style game
I’m not saying this to be sarcastic, but seriously, there can’t be a non-conference team the Cowboys overlook this season like they did with Central Michigan last season. Sure, they technically should have won the game, but do you really want to put that decision in the hands of the College Football Playoff committee? Just take care of business, and whack around Tulsa, South Alabama and Pittsburgh. Tulsa has a very solid offensive and is a good AAC team, but it’s still a Group of 5 team. Meantime, Pittsburgh had a very nice season last year, but they lost QB Nathan Peterman and offensive coordinator Matt Canada. So there is no excuse for the Pokes to not rip through this non-conference schedule at 3-0.
How about this? The Cowboys open up Big 12 play with their first four games against every Big 12 school from the state of Texas: vs. TCU, @ Texas Tech, vs. Baylor, @ Texas. Unfortunately, they have to go on the road for the two tougher atmospheres to play in at Lubbock and in Austin. Also, the Big 12 home opener against TCU is going to be a tone setter in the conference. Is TCU really ready for a bounce back season? If the Horned Frogs go on the road and beat an Oklahoma State team that should still be ranked in the top 10 at that time, it changes the entire landscape of the Big 12 conference this fall.
Of their first eight games, the Oklahoma State Cowboys play five of them on the road, including long trips to Pittsburgh and Morgantown. That also includes three Big 12 road games in a four-week stretch of going to Lubbock, Austin and Morgantown. None of these venues are easy places for opposing teams to play. Granted, the back end of the schedule has three home games in the final four weeks, but if they trip up too many times on the front end of the schedule, the home-friendly end to the season won’t much matter in terms of winning a Big 12 title or reaching the College Football Playoff.
Bob Stoops is out of the picture, so Mike Gundy and all the Oklahoma State faithful can breathe a sigh of relief. That being said, there is no excuse for Gundy being out coached, which seems to have happened too many times in Bedlam games. The Sooners have won 12 of the past 14 in Bedlam and this is the chance for Gundy to begin writing a different script. He has the game on his home turf in what could very well be the biggest game of the Big 12 regular season. Now if Oklahoma State loses this game and then goes and beats Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game, the Pokes could still find their way into the College Football Playoff, if they only have one loss. Two losses, and I don’t think they’re getting in, even with a Big 12 championship win. A worst-case scenario would be a win over OU in November and a loss to OU in AT&T Stadium in December to knock the Pokes out of the College Football Playoff picture. But we don’t have to talk about that just yet…
The Oklahoma State Cowboys season ends with a pair of games against the Kansas schools. They close home against Kansas State and then home against Kansas. The game against Kansas State in the second-to-last game of the season could be one of the most important games in the Big 12 and could very well determine who ends up in the Big 12 championship game. It will easily be one of the most anticipated games in the Big 12. And who knows about Kansas. Could the Jayhawks be thinking about the Iowa State – Oklahoma State game circa 2011? Let’s hope not, for Oklahoma State’s sake.
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