Following a 34-27 loss to the Iowa State Cyclones last Saturday, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are 2-2 to start the season for the first time since 2012. Since then, the Cowboys have started every season 3-1 at the worst through their first four games. Considering the poor start, especially when the two losses have been to mediocre teams, it’s fair to ask a difficult question: is this team capable of even making a bowl game at this point?
Two seasons ago, Oklahoma State was literally less than a single yard away from winning a Big 12 Championship. After a 6-1 start to the 2022 campaign, injuries fueled a string of losses as the Cowboys stumbled their way into a 7-6 finish, which included a 24-17 loss to Wisconsin in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. Fast forward to present day following a crazy turnover of players, and the Cowboys are dealing with some major identity issues on both sides of the ball.
As of last week, Oklahoma State has settled on Alan Bowman at the quarterback position, and while he did not have the best game in his first full outing, at least the offense can MAYBE start to find a direction. Meanwhile, the defense still has plenty of work to do.
Taking a look at the remaining schedule, the Cowboys hardly stand a chance to come up with four wins unless they make some major improvements. They are fresh off a bye week, so perhaps they were able to use the extra practice time to make some necessary adjustments.
According to ESPN’s Matchup Predictor, the Cowboys are currently favored in just one of their remaining games: the season finale at home against BYU. Of the 7 other games left to play, the Cowboys are slight underdogs in 3 others and heavy underdogs in 4, including Friday night’s home game against Kansas State. Let’s take a closer look at each game and see just how good of a chance the Cowboys have at a bowl berth at the end of the season.
Friday, October 6th: Kansas State Wildcats (21.3% chance of winning)
The Wildcats are a double-digit favorite against the Cowboys on Friday, and for good reason. Kansas State is top 5 in the conference right now in both offense and defense, and they are averaging the second-most points scored while allowing the third fewest. ESPN’s Matchup Predictor gives Oklahoma State just a 21.3% chance of victory. It’s going to take something special for the Cowboys to get a win against a solid Kansas State squad.
Saturday, October 14th: Kansas Jayhawks (49.5% chance of winning)
The Jayhawks started off the season hot, and after hanging with Texas in the first half last weekend, it looked like they might be a real contender in the conference. Unfortunately for Kansas, the Longhorns made some serious adjustments and blew them away. Because this is another game for the Cowboys, they are being given fairly good odds of winning the game, and honestly, if Oklahoma State gets picked apart by Kansas State this week, then beating the Jayhawks might be absolutely necessary to prevent the wheels from coming off completely.
Saturday, October 21st: West Virginia Mountaineers (29.0% chance of winning)
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that West Virginia would start the season 4-1 while looking like a legit top-3 team in the Big 12, I would have laughed at you. Here they are, though, and now it looks like the Mountaineers might beat the Cowboys for the second year in a row. Oh, and Oklahoma State has to travel to Morgantown. This could be an ugly one.
Saturday, October 28th: Cincinnati Bearcats (41.2% chance of winning)
Hosting the Bearcats at the end of the month could be a great opportunity for the Cowboys. Cincinnati doesn’t look to be as good as they might have let on early in the season, and if Oklahoma State has made some real improvements by then, who knows?
Saturday, November 4th: Oklahoma Sooners (5.7% chance of winning)
The only chance that Oklahoma State has at winning this game is the fact that it’s Bedlam. If this weren’t a rivalry game, I’d write the Cowboys off so quickly. However, I’m old enough to remember Rashaun Woods catching a touchdown pass from true freshman Josh Fields in the corner of the end zone in Norman to seal a 16-13 upset over the reigning National Champions, so I KNOW that anything can happen in this game.
Saturday, November 11th: Central Florida Knights (20.0% chance of winning)
In just their first season in the Big 12, Central Florida is already 0-2 in conference play, dropping games to both Kansas State and Baylor. They might not be very good, so by the time this game rolls around, the Cowboys could have much better odds at winning. I’d keep an eye on this one.
Saturday, November 18th: Houston Cougars (45.1% chance of winning)
I’m a little surprised that Houston is predicted as the favorite in this one simply because they haven’t really done much this season worthy of positive talk. The Cougars could easily lose every game between now and their meeting with Oklahoma State, but at the same time, so could the Cowboys, so this one might be a matchup of the two biggest losers in the conference.
Saturday, November 25th: BYU Cougars (52.9% chance of winning)
This is the lone game remaining that the Cowboys are expected (barely) to win. BYU hasn’t looked too bad so far, though, so who’s to say if these odds will remain for very long. This very well could Oklahoma State’s chance to clinch a bowl game, and the fact that it’s at home bodes well for the Cowboys.
Taking a look at current expectations, the Cowboys have a moderate shot at making a bowl game. Regardless, it’s a long season, so right now the only thing to do is take it one game at a time. Because the Cowboys had an extra week to prepare for Kansas State, perhaps they can make some necessary adjustments to at least make it a competitive game. If Oklahoma State is able to put up a decent fight against a solid team like Kansas State, then fans should have hope that a bowl game is still within reach.