Opponent: Oklahoma State
Kickoff: October 1st
Location: McLane Stadium (Waco, TX)
Conference: Big 12
Head Coach: Mike Gundy (entering 18th year)
Last Year’s Record: 12-2
Notable Outcomes: Beat Baylor 24-14; lost to Baylor 21-16; beat Notre Dame 37-35
Key Losses: Jaylen Warren, RB; Malcolm Rodriguez, LB; Devin Harper, LB
Key Returners: Spencer Sanders, QB; Brennan Presley, WR; Collin Oliver, DE
Strength: Quarterback. Oklahoma State returns senior quarterback Spencer Sanders who will be a key leader for the Cowboys. He orchestrated a number of key comebacks last season, notably against Oklahoma and Notre Dame (and came up inches short of a comeback against Baylor). He’ll need to bring stability to the offense as they look to replace their best running back and wide receiver from last year.
Weakness: Linebacker. The Cowboys lost a ton of defensive production from last season, including their top two linebackers: Malcolm Rodriguez and Devin Harper. In fact, the Cowboys lost six of their top eight tacklers from last season. If that weren’t tough enough, they also lost their highly regarded defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles, to Ohio State.
Way Too Early Prediction: Oklahoma State is going to be dead set on revenge after falling to Baylor in dramatic fashion in last year’s Big 12 championship game. The problem for the Cowboys in accomplishing that goal, however, is three fold. First, Oklahoma State’s defense is going to drop off this season with all of the production they have lost and with a transition to a new defensive coordinator. Whether that is big drop off or a more mild drop off is yet to be seen, but it likely won’t matter much because of the second problem: Baylor’s starting quarterback, Blake Shapen, ate up one of the best Oklahoma State defenses in recent memory for a half of football last year. With continued improvement from Shapen against a weakened defense, I would imagine that expands to more than a half this season. Third, this game is in Waco, unlike last year’s regular season game in Stillwater (a notoriously difficult road environment). All that, plus some potential question marks at skill positions on offense for the Cowboys, and I actually don’t expect this game to be all that close.