Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys have some key conference games at home, aiding their hopes of snagging a Big 12 championship
If you’re an upstart looking to win a Big 12 title, you could do much worse than Oklahoma State’s 2017 slate.
The Cowboys fall on the favorable side of the conference draw with five home games this season. Equally important are the teams they’re playing in Stillwater, including likely Big 12 contenders Oklahoma and Kansas State.
How OSU handles two sets of back-to-back road games this fall may determine whether or not Mike Gundy’s team is in the national championship conversation late in the year.
12. Nov. 25 vs. Kansas
OSU ends its season with what should be the easiest game of the year. Talk about easing into the postseason.
11. Aug. 31 vs. Tulsa
The Cowboys and Golden Hurricane kick off the season with a Thursday night game. It adds a little extra spice to this in-state rivalry. This game probably sounds more interesting in concept than it will be in practice, though.
10. Sept. 8 at South Alabama
OSU athletic director Mike Holder pinched a few pennies by agreeing to play on the Jaguars’ home turf. Mike Gundy probably didn’t appreciate it, however. USA could end up being frisky this year – don’t forget this team stunned Mississippi State in its season opener last season.
9. Oct. 14 vs. Baylor
The Bears appear primed for another down year as they adjust to the Matt Rhule era. After losing three straight to BU, the Cowboys surely won’t have any issue adding to his debut season’s frustrations.
8. Sept. 30 at Texas Tech
OSU scraped by the Red Raiders, 45-44, last year in Stillwater. Tech has sustained so many personnel losses in the offseason that it’s hard to see TTU staying within striking distance of a team like OSU again. Then again, weird stuff happens in Lubbock.
7. Nov. 11 at Iowa State
Weird stuff also tends to happen in Ames. OSU knows this all too well. A week after taking on Oklahoma, the Cowboys have to avoid letting their guard down against the Cyclones.
6. Sept. 23 vs. TCU
The Pokes haven’t had many problems with the Horned Frogs since TCU joined the Big 12. Case in point: OSU won last year’s meeting by 25 points.
The Cowboys could struggle here, however, as the date with TCU falls a week after OSU wraps up consecutive road trips early in the season.
5. Sept. 16 at Pittsburgh
OSU didn’t have much in common with national champion Clemson last season. That includes the fact that the Cowboys did manage to beat Pitt.
Fortunately for OSU, the Panthers and head coach Pat Narduzzi have a number of holes from last year to fill this offseason. This game seems less daunting now in that respect.
4. Oct. 28 at West Virginia
OSU’s date with the Mountaineers in Morgantown comes a week after the team travels to Texas. The Pokes might be a little road weary by that point. That makes what should be an imminently winnable game closer to a 50-50 proposition.
3. Oct. 21 at Texas
On the plus side, this is a letdown spot for Texas. The Longhorns play Oklahoma a week prior in Dallas.
If UT is locked in, getting a win in Austin won’t come easy for the Cowboys.
2. Nov. 18 vs. Kansas State
The Cowboys might need a win in this spot to secure a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game, as the Wildcats will likely challenge for the top of the league as well. A week after a long road trip to Iowa State ups the degree of difficulty for OSU.
1. Nov. 4 vs. Oklahoma
Mike Gundy has helped OSU narrow the gap on its Bedlam rival in Norman, but the Cowboys still have a ways to go to catch up to OU.
The Cowboys will face plenty of deserved skepticism this year about their ability to beat the Sooners when it matters. The good news is that if they lose to OU in this meeting, the Pokes might get a second shot at the Sooners in the Big 12 title game.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.