A fourth straight season with double-digit wins would be a major accomplishment for the Mike Gundy and the Cowboys
Before the 2017 season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys gained traction as a potential dark horse for the College Football Playoff. The season ended with a fine record of 10-3, but there was no CFP bid. There wasn’t even a spot in the Big 12 title game.
Head coach Mike Gundy now has to figure out who is going to replace four-year starter Mason Rudolph behind center. The Cowboys need a new deep threat, too, with James Washington off to the pros. In fact, Gundy and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich are looking at a wide range of retooling on offense with just five starters returning from a year ago. On the other side of the ball, newly hired defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will need time to install his scheme.
Gundy and Co. might be looking at a season that is not up to their typically high standards. Athlon asked a few editors and college football contributors to share their realistic win/loss projection for Oklahoma State in 2018.
Oklahoma State Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2018
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even though Oklahoma State has to replace quarterback Mason Rudolph and standout receiver James Washington, this team won’t slip too far from the top 25 or top half of the Big 12. Coach Mike Gundy has won at least 10 games in four out of the last five years and restocking the offense has never been a problem under his watch in Stillwater. New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles also is one of the top assistant hires for 2018. The Cowboys have a favorable first half of the season, which should allow Gundy and coordinator Mike Yurcich to find the right mix on offense. However, the final six contests are brutal: at Kansas State, Texas, at Baylor, at Oklahoma, West Virginia and at TCU.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Evaluating schedules is difficult in the Big 12 because there is so much parity in the league. The guess here is that Oklahoma State, even with a new QB, gets off to a fast start, thanks in large part to a favorable early-season Big 12 schedule. The home date with Boise State will be interesting. It's the biggest test of the season for the Broncos (who play both Fresno State and San Diego State at home), so you know they will be ready to play. The Cowboys' closing stretch is very tough, with road trips to Oklahoma and TCU sandwiched around a home date with West Virginia.
Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer)
I don't think the Cowboys' final record will properly indicate how good this team will be but is rather just a big reflection on the incredible amount of talent they've lost and the strength of the Big 12 -- especially in the middle class -- in 2018. The Jim Knowles hire at defensive coordinator will wind up paying off in the future and RB Justice Hill (above, right) remains one of my favorite players to watch play on Saturdays. Mike Gundy is pretty adept at replacing QBs and WRs but it might catch up to him a little bit in this rebuilding campaign in Stillwater.
Allen Kenney (@BlatantHomerism)
Aside from a tricky date with Boise State in week three, Oklahoma State has exactly the kind of schedule you would want to start the year when you are fielding an unproven team. The Cowboys are looking at laughers in their first two weeks. Moreover, the first three conference matchups include two of the Big 12’s weakest teams, Kansas and Texas Tech, and a home date with Iowa State.
That stretch gives OSU a chance to build up a puffy record through the middle of October, but the back half of the year is a bear, including road trips in four of six games. If the Cowboys start to crumble late in the season, freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders could take over and help the program get a head start on 2019.