Here’s Why Oklahoma State is Picked to Finish Outside Top 3 in 2024 Big 12 Standings

Oklahoma State's Ollie Gordon II (0) tries to get by Kansas State's Kobe Savage (2) in the first half of the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Kansas State Wildcats at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. Okla., Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. OSU won 29-21.

One of the most interesting questions being asked as Big 12 football fans start to trickle back into conversations ahead of the 2024 season is why the expectations around Oklahoma State are so low.

When FanDuel opened up its odds in March, Oklahoma State was tied with TCU for the eighth-best odds to win the Big 12 at +1600. Now, in June, the Pokes’ odds are a bit better (+1000), but they still seem to fall somewhere between fourth and eighth in terms of odds of winning the league.

So, why is that? It’s been a perplexing question to try and answer for the past several months, and on Monday morning, I decided to sit down and dig into things a bit deeper.


What I found is that the answer really lies with how unpredictable this team was last season and, because of that, how unpredictable they are for oddsmakers heading into 2024.

Vegas has Oklahoma State’s win total set at 7.5 games, up one game from the 2023 preseason (6.5 games). After a 10-4 season year ago, it would’ve made sense for that total to be closer to 8.5 or 9.5 games with the second-most production of any team in the country coming back, right?

Well, logically, yes, it would make sense. But Oklahoma State’s 2023 season was hardly “logical” from a betting perspective. That is unless you blindly trust Mike Gundy in one-score games.

The truth of the matter is that Oklahoma State was incredibly fortunate in one-possession games in 2023. They were 5-1 in such games, and if history tells us anything, it’s that regression is likely when it comes to being on the right side of those sorts of outcomes. Historically, teams are right around .500 in one-score games, but the Pokes won those games 83% of the time last year.


Here’s a look at the closing lines and final scores from every one-possession game that Oklahoma State played in 2023.


Oklahoma State at Iowa State (-3.5) – L, 27-34

Kansas State (-11. 5) at Oklahoma State – W, 29-21

Kansas (-2.5) at Oklahoma State – W, 39-32

Oklahoma (-6) at Oklahoma State – W, 27-24

BYU at Oklahoma State (-16.5) – W, 40-34 (2OT)

Texas A&M (-3.5) vs. OSU – W, 31-23

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Oklahoma State’s 2024 schedule and try to see what Vegas is seeing with a team that returns so much experience and production, yet appears to be set for some regression.


Aug. 31 (Sat)S. Dakota StateStillwater, OK
Sep. 7 (Sat)Arkansas4.644Stillwater, OK
Sep. 14 (Sat)@ Tulsa-7.1101Tulsa, OK
Sep. 21 (Sat)Utah7.527Stillwater, OK
Sep. 28 (Sat)@ Kansas State10.022Manhattan, KS
Oct. 5 (Sat)West Virginia6.035Stillwater, OK
Oct. 12BYE
Oct. 18 (Fri)@ BYU-1.573Provo, UT
Oct. 26 (Sat)@ Baylor1.955Waco, TX
Nov. 2 (Sat)Arizona State-0.363Stillwater, OK
Nov. 9 (Sat)@ TCU7.130Fort Worth, TX
Nov. 16BYE
Nov. 23 (Sat)Texas Tech7.129Stillwater, OK
Nov. 29 (Fri)@ Colorado6.036Boulder, CO

Using ESPN’s FPI, we can project Oklahoma State’s schedule and see how many one-possession games the Pokes should have in 2024.

A team’s FPI score is translated as the expected point margin a team would have against an average opponent on a neutral field. For example, FPI’s No. 1 team (Georgia) is projected to be 26.8 points better than the average FBS team in 2024. Meanwhile, FPI’s worst team (Kent State) would be projected to lose to the average FBS team by 18.6 points.

Oklahoma State ranks 26th in FPI and is an expected 7.6 points better than the average team, per FPI’s model. So, when we look at the teams on the Cowboys’ schedule, and what they score in FPI, we quickly see that OSU can reasonably be expected to be in multiple one-possession games. In fact, FPI would project nine of Oklahoma State’s 12 games to be within one-score on a neutral field.

So, while their schedule isn’t necessarily difficult, it is difficult to predict. Furthermore, if Oklahoma State is expected to be closer to .500 in one-score games this season, they would likely end up with four or five losses. Where does that put them in terms of record? Right at the 7-5 or 8-4 mark and right on the 7.5-win total line.

It’s far from a fool-proof system, as this exact team showed last season, but it does give us a closer look at why a team returning so much production might not have as high of expectations as one might expect.

Most Popular

To Top