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2018

Oklahoma State

College Football

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Oklahoma State didn’t live up to lofty expectations last season with the main reason being three home losses. But after a bowl victory and 10-win campaign, the Cowboys can only surpass expectations this year because their over/under is at eight wins. Sure, double-digit wins are on the table for Mike Gundy again, but no one would be surprised if this group slipped this season. Their early spring odds have them fighting for contention in the Big 12 and little chance of the College Football Playoff with worse National Championship odds (+13000 at 5Dimes Sportsbook) than Texas, TCU and West Virginia.

Of course, the biggest news for OK State heading into the season is quarterback. Four-year starter Mason Rudolph is gone and there are a few options to take his spot. Taylor Cornelius, last year’s backup, got his chance to shine in the spring, but his biggest competition will come in the summer in transfer Dru Brown and freshman Spencer Sanders. Quarterback probably won’t be decided until fall, so it’s best to examine the other parts. The line has some questions to answer with three seniors gone, although Gundy believes this group should be better. That’s good news for running back Justice Hill (1,347 yards, 14 TDs), who is set to have a breakout season and has +9000 odds to win Heisman. The receivers also need to step up with Jalen McCleskey (49 receptions, 633 yards) and Dillon Stoner (541 yards) the next guys up. While they may not average 576 yards or 46 points per game, this offense should be dynamic under Gundy, which is usually the case no matter the quarterback.

The difference for this team comes on the defensive side where Jim Knowles is now coordinator after a few seasons at Duke. Knowles brings in a 4-2-5 scheme to a defense that returns a lot of starters, but also struggled and gave up 30.1 points per game a year ago. The front six should run the group with guys like Jordan Brailford on the line and Calvin Bundage and Justin Phillips at linebacker. The secondary may be the biggest issue with a couple young safeties to work with two corners that got beat a fair amount last season, although both have bright futures. This defense has always needed to hold leads in high-scoring games and now Knowles gets that task. At the least, there is enough experience remaining that the defense can improve.

But again, the Pokes aren’t expected to do as much with a new quarterback, although there’s a decent chance they start the season with six-straight wins, five of those coming at home. In fact, they don’t have any games that truly stand out on the schedule until going to Oklahoma in early November. OSU gets three of its final four games on the road, but the Sooners may be the only team it’ll be a definite underdog against. Even with a new quarterback, the Pokes aren’t in a terrible situation in the Big 12 with a number of teams also in the same spot with new quarterbacks and struggling defenses. If the defense can take another step under Knowles, nine wins in the regular season are on the table and if Cornelius is halfway decent, this team can contend for the Big 12 Championship.

 

2018 Oklahoma State Cowboys Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Missouri State

Sept. 8 vs. South Alabama

Sept. 15 vs. Boise State

Sept. 22 vs. Texas Tech

Sept. 29 at Kansas

Oct. 6 vs. Iowa State

Oct. 13 at Kansas State

Oct. 27 vs. Texas

Nov. 3 at Baylor

Nov. 10 at Oklahoma

Nov. 17 vs. West Virginia

Nov. 24 at TCU

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