Oklahoma State’s season has officially come to an end, which means we can now turn our attention to
basketball baseball the 2019 season!
The Cowboys’ 2019 schedule has already been released and includes non-conference match-ups with Oregon State and Tulsa, and conference road trips to Texas, Texas Tech, and West Virginia.
|Friday, Aug. 30||Oregon State||Corvallis, OR|
|Saturday, Sep. 7||McNeese State||Stillwater, OK|
|Saturday, Sep. 14||Tulsa||Tulsa, OK|
|Saturday, Sep. 21||Texas||Austin, TX|
|Saturday, Sep. 28||Kansas State||Stillwater, OK|
|Saturday, Oct. 5||Texas Tech||Lubbock, TX|
|Saturday, Oct. 12||OFF|
|Saturday, Oct. 19||Baylor (HC)||Stillwater, OK|
|Saturday, Oct. 26||Iowa State||Ames, IA|
|Saturday, Nov. 2||TCU||Stillwater, OK|
|Saturday, Nov. 9||OFF|
|Saturday, Nov. 16||Kansas||Stillwater, OK|
|Saturday, Nov. 23||West Virginia||Morgantown, WV|
|Saturday, Nov. 30||Oklahoma||Stillwater, OK|
So what should we expect out of this 12-game slate. I have a few thoughts, including why the first half is tougher than it looks, and the back-half might be easier.
For the second year in a row and the third time in four years Oklahoma State will start their season early. The Cowboys will head to Corvallis, Oregon to open the 2019 season on Friday, August 30th.
While I don’t love this with home games, I think it’s great on the road. For one thing, the crowds are usually smaller, which should be a benefit. For two, this is a Power-5 match-up, meaning there’s about a 99.9% chance the game will be televised nationally on ESPN or Fox Sports 1.
Personally, as someone who covers the team, getting the first Saturday of the season off to just watch football is pretty nice.
The Start of a New Era
Whether it’s redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders or redshirt Senior Dru Brown under center at the start of the season, Oklahoma State will start the year with a different quarterback for the third year in a row. That’s why the start of the 2019 schedule is tricky.
Assuming it’s Spencer Sanders, that means you’ll be asking a redshirt freshman to start three of the first four and four of the first six games of his career on the road. Yes one is in Tulsa, which you could argue is essentially a “neutral site game,” but it’s still not the same as your own home field.
That’s a big ask of a new starter, no matter which QB is behind center. Oregon State may not be very good, but Corvallis is a long way from Stillwater. Tulsa may be close (and also not very good) but empty stadiums are weird to play in. Road games in Austin against an improving Texas team and in Lubbock against a new head coach will be very challenging.
Throw in the fact that your only home game in your first four games is against an FCS team that went 6-5 last season, which I don’t think ever really does anything to prepare a team competition-wise.
How the Cowboys come out of the gate will go a long way to determining what kind of season 2019 will be, and what kind of career Sanders or Brown will have.
Facing the unfamiliar early
Speaking of Texas Tech, Oklahoma State will face two of the Big 12’s three new head coaches in the first half of the season. On the plus side, you’ll have a few weeks of game tape to help. On the other hand, how much is a team going to show in the first couple of weeks, especially with both opponents having an off week before they face the Cowboys?
It’s a tricky situation when facing a new coach who will have more tape on you and your tendencies than you will on them.
Now, with all of that said Mike Gundy has a pretty good record against new coaches in conference play. If you count WVU and TCU’s first seasons in the Big 12, when facing new coaches for the first time in Big 12 play, Gundy is 17-4. I like his odds, but that doesn’t make it easy.
Two Off Weeks Without OSU Football
Mike Gundy is probably not going to be a fan of this season’s schedule as it has two off weeks, something Coach Gundy mentioned he’s not a fan of. The first one, which falls after week six, should be fine. But the second one, after week 10? Not so much.
“Anywhere from (games) 5-7, to me, is OK,” Gundy said. “Early early and late late doesn’t do me much good, if any.”
The Cowboys get a break after the first six games, then get a break right in the middle of the final six games.
Gundy is 14-8 in games after an off week, and that’s after winning three in a row, and with home games against Baylor and Kansas the week after 2019’s “offs,” I would expect to see that winning percentage to continue to move above .500.
Back Half Benefits
Speaking of the back half of the season, I really like how it’s stacked for Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys gets both of their “offs” week when teams need them most; in the later-part of the season when teams need a break and time to heal.
After the first six games, the last six are split in the middle, which could be good, especially with the road games sandwiched in between home games. Both games out of the off weeks should be winners, with Kansas and Baylor at home. Yes, Baylor is improving, but homecoming? OSU doesn’t lose that game often.
OSU will also face the Big 12’s two other new head coaches — Les Miles at Kansas and Neal Brown at West Virginia — in the final weeks of the season. That should give them plenty of tape, especially with Brown who will be new to the Big 12 (and I think was the best hire of the four).
I understand why the Big 12 started scheduling Bedlam earlier in the season two years ago; the match-up often had major implications on, if not out-right decided, the Big 12 title. With the league trying to avoid back-to-back match-ups with the conference title game, they moved one of the Big 12’s marquee match-ups a few weeks earlier.
That said, Bedlam is back on the weekend it belongs; the last one of the regular season. Thanksgiving weekend is just so much better watching the in-state rivalry over games against TCU and Kansas. There are so many football traditions that have been lost over the last decade of college football due to necessity, ego, and the changing of the game, that seeing Bedlam back on the holiday weekend, when fans of both schools are gathered around the television as family members, brings a smile to my face.
Now, if OSU and OU are the favorites to reach the Big 12 title match, by all means move the game back up. But when they’re not? Let’s have the Sooners and Cowboys’ regular season close out the way they should; against each other.