The Oklahoma State Cowboys open up their football season on Thursday, August 30th, at home against the Missouri State Bears, a Division I Football Championship Division (FCS) school and member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
The Cowboys are 7-0 all-time against the Bears, with all seven games played in Stillwater. The most recent matchup was in 2014 when the Cowboys won 40-23.
Oklahoma State has won 22 consecutive home openers, and they should have no trouble continuing the streak next Thursday. Regardless of the level of talent from the opposing team, there are a number of questions surrounding this Cowboy squad with star quarterback Mason Rudolph and stud receiver James Washington gone to the NFL, as well as newcomer Jim Knowles coming from Duke to replace Glenn Spencer at defensive coordinator.
Missouri State finished 3-8 a season ago with just one of those wins coming on the road. The Bears have not had a winning season since going 6-5 in 2009. Oklahoma State is shelling out $400k for the Bears to travel to Stillwater, and that’s all the reason Missouri State needs.
The Bears allowed 38.1 points per game last season, which would rank them in the bottom 10 of FBS teams. On the ground, Missouri State gave up 216.9 yards per game, which would put them in the bottom 15, and through the air, the Bears allowed 255.9 yards per game, which would place them in the bottom 25.
Despite the fact that the Cowboys have new quarterback Taylor Cornelius at the helm, they should have no issue racking up some serious points in what should be considered nothing less than a tune up game.
Missouri State’s ability to find the end zone was a struggle a season ago. The Bears averaged 24.2 points per game, which would be barely good enough to crack the top 100 in FBS teams. Their rushing game was mediocre, averaging 169.4 yards per game, but the passing game was flat out poor, averaging 191.6 yards per game.
The Bears may be able to put some points on the board considering Oklahoma State is working under a new defensive coordinator, but the Cowboys have seven starters returning on defense, so don’t count on it.
Oklahoma State is 10-0 against FCS teams under the tenure of Mike Gundy, and a loss to start what is considered by many to be a rebuilding season would not be good. Typically this is a game that should have very little pressure, but the fact that it is on a Thursday night makes it slightly more worrisome.
Thursday night games are weird because they’re a rarity, and they take players out of their typical routine. The entire week is off because the game comes two days earlier instead of on Saturday, and the preparation in general is simply not what players are used to.
Routine means a lot in athletics, so the Cowboys will need to come in especially focused so that they can establish some rhythm early and avoid any chance of a letdown.