The 2014 season is less than a week away, so I thought it prudent to discuss what I think are the worst and best possible outcomes for the season. With youth and inexperience at most positions, there is a lot we don't know about this team. They could turn out like 2010, when OSU was picked last in the Big 12 South and finished with an overachieving 11-2. On the other hand, the Pokes could struggle to become bowl eligible.
The schedule and inexperience are the two major factors that could lead to an unsuccessful season. The Cowboys play an unforgiving gauntlet that includes opening with the defending national champions and number 1 team in the nation, then concludes with 4 out of 5 games on the road against the preseason top half of the conference.
The silver lining?
Missouri State, UTSA, Iowa State, Kansas.
The Cowboys should be able to come home with at least 4 wins. Getting West Virginia in Stillwater would hopefully get them to five. Anything more than that could be a crap shoot. If you start talking bowl eligibility, then OSU would need just one more win to reach that plateau because you are allowed one win over an FCS program in your bowl eligibility total (Misssouri St is FCS).
With no guarantees, I think worst case scenario is 5-7.
The four teams mentioned above are about as close to locks as you can get, and OSU will very likely pick off at least one of these three...Texas Tech, West Virginia, or Texas.
Even still, a losing record is well within reason. The young players may not develop as fast as needed; injuries always come into play; opponents turn out better than anticipated.
How significant would this be?
A losing record would be Gundy's first since his opening season as HC in 2005, and only the second for the program since 2002. From 1989-2001, OSU had one winning season and posted 52 wins (an avg of 4 wins per year over 13 seasons). The Cowboys have 50 wins in their last 5 seasons.
Talk about a change in scenery.
While odds are in favor of a better result, this would not be a huge stretch given what OSU has to work with. Gundy has mentioned more than once that this is the toughest job the coaches have had since 2005, when Gundy cleaned house in taking over from Les Miles.
Here's hoping the Cowboys defy the odds.