As college football’s opening kickoff for the 2017 season is just around the corner, expectations are starting to rise and the hype is real in Stillwater. Oklahoma State is expected to have one of the most high-powered offenses in the country led by potential Heisman candidate quarterback Mason Rudolph, Biletnikoff candidate wide receiver James Washington, and sophomore running back Justice Hill.
One month ago, lines for win totals for all of college football were released, and according to Bovada in Las Vegas, the line for the Cowboys’ win total opened up at 9. Taking a brief look at the schedule and understanding the talent that this team has will quickly lead you to the conclusion that Oklahoma State will at the very least “PUSH” on their line.
The Cowboys start the season with a Thursday night kickoff against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Stillwater. After struggling to finish with a winning record three years in a row, Tulsa had a fairly exceptional season a year ago when they went 10-3, including a win in the Miami Beach Bowl against Central Michigan. Despite this success, the Golden Hurricane are not expected to perform quite as well this season, and the Cowboys should have no issue handling them at home.
The following week, Oklahoma State will take on South Alabama down in Mobile, and as far as non-conference games go, the Jaguars scream mediocrity. The football program has only existed since 2012, and in five seasons, they have a 25-38 record, which includes two bowl losses and no winning records. The Cowboys should go down there and take care of business with ease.
Wrapping up the non-conference schedule for the Cowboys will be their most talented foe of the three as they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers. Oklahoma State will play a morning game away from home, which can serve as a challenge at times, but Pitt is expected to be fairly average as they were a year ago, so starting off 3-0 should be expected for Cowboy fans.
Oklahoma State will then jump into conference play against TCU, which is a bit of a question mark going into the season. TCU’s defense has some strong talent led by one of the best linebacker duos in the nation, but aside from a solid offensive line, the offense has some serious concerns. If the Cowboys can start conference play with a solid win at home against the Horned Frogs, they will feel confident moving forward.
Next up on the schedule is an away game against Texas Tech. Winning in Lubbock can be a challenge, but Oklahoma State has won the last 8 meetings between the two teams, and the Red Raiders are not even expected to make it to a bowl game this season, so a win should be expected.
Any one of the next three games against Baylor at home, Texas in Austin, and West Virginia in Morgantown could turn into a trap game for the Cowboys. The Bears, the Longhorns, and the Mountaineers are all predicted to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big 12, but Oklahoma State has to be careful and not let a game slip away. If they take care of business as they should, the Cowboys will be sitting at 8-0 headed into Bedlam.
As is the case pretty much every season, the Oklahoma Sooners will be the biggest challenge for the Cowboys. This game was moved up a few weeks from its typical spot because the matchup will likely serve as a precursor to the newly reinstated Big 12 Championship Game. The Sooners may already have at least one loss on their schedule due to an early season matchup with the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus, and with the game in Stillwater, Oklahoma State could find themselves as the favorite to win. Maybe.
Oklahoma State will wrap up the regular season with an away game against Iowa State followed by two home games against Kansas State and Kansas. The Cyclones and the Jayhawks rarely serve as a challenge for the Cowboys (let’s just forget about 2011 in Ames), so they should be easy wins. Kansas State, however, could be a late-season challenge for Oklahoma State, as the Wildcats could be considered a dark horse to challenge for the Big 12 title.
After the season is all said and done, the Cowboys have a solid chance to earn a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game and finish the regular season with no worse than a 10-2 record. If the offense performs as expected, the defense steps up to the challenge, and the Cowboys play their cards right, Oklahoma State could find themselves heavy in Playoffs talks come December.