No offense to college baseball season, but we’re officially in the long winter until college football and basketball returns. With that in mind, we’re starting a new weekly series; the CRFF Debate.
Each week we’ll take the strongest opinions around a specific football or basketball related topic.
We’re kicking things off with a fun one; What is the most important game on Oklahoma State’s 2019 schedule?
Phillip Slavin - Texas
I realize the expected response is Oklahoma. It’s the Cowboys’ rivalry game, the one that winning means more than any other. But it’s unrealistic to make that OSU’s most important game on the schedule, in a season where the team isn’t expected to challenge for the Big 12 title.
No, what’s more important for OSU right now is not trying to catch up to and surpass the Sooners, it’s staying ahead of the Longhorns.
I’m not one who believes Texas is officially “back” yet — they were great against the best teams and struggled with the bad ones — but one thing is for sure; they’re closer than they’ve been in a decade. During Texas’ down time, Oklahoma State has risen up to be, arguably the second best team in the Big 12. For them to stay in that upper echelon and have a legit shot at capturing another conference title, they need to stay ahead of the Longhorns.
Since head coach Tom Herman arrived in Austin, Oklahoma State has done that, going 2-0 against the Longhorns. While a win isn’t necessarily necessary to stay ahead, it certainly doesn’t hurt. If the Cowboys can’t stay ahead of the Longhorns in recruiting, they need to do it on the field.
Ryan Harris - West Virginia
Oklahoma State will end their season against West Virginia in Morgantown before heading back to Stillwater before Bedlam. OSU’s “super bowl” is Bedlam every year. If the Cowboys can get a win and some momentum heading into Bedlam, that would be huge. Finishing the season with wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma should improve the bowl game OSU goes to regardless of how the rest of the season goes.
The end of the season is also important because it will show us how much the younger players (yes I’m mainly talking about Spencer Sanders) have developed over the year.
Micah Allen - Oklahoma
In my opinion Bedlam is going to be the most important game for the 2019 season. First, you have the rivalry game aspect of it. Bedlam is important because it’s a game that the Cowboys don’t normally win. If they’re able to win that game, it would give them another one in the win column so that they’re able to gain some ground on their rivals to the south no matter how little ground it is.
The second aspect of is that Bedlam is the last game of the season. Not only is their a possibility that the Cowboys are going to need to win this game so that they’re able to play in Dallas for the Big 12 Championship, even if the Pokes aren’t even close to playing in the Championship they could play spoiler. It’s pretty much a guaranteed that the Sooners are going to be in the race to get there. If the Cowboys can get the W in Bedlam they could slim those chances. I expect that OU will have at least one loss at this point and another could bump them out of the championship.
Matt Harris - Texas
It’s tough to gauge which game could potentially be the most important for the Pokes. A big reason for this is several key departures from just about every top team in the conference.
West Virginia breaks in a new coach and a new quarterback while TCU lost three quarterbacks from last year’s squad. OU will replace a Heisman winning quarterback for the second year in a row, but the Sooners are always ready to reload. Kansas State, Texas Tech and Kansas will all have new head coaches as well. Iowa State and Texas feel like the only two programs that are returning a bulk of key talent while also retaining their head coach.
The popular pick here is probably OU. Here’s why it’s not: anything can happen in Bedlam. Last year’s 7-6 team almost upset the playoff-bound Sooners in Norman and Oklahoma State’s last win over OU came in a year where the Pokes finished… you guessed it, 7-6. Not to mention that the all-time series stands at 88-18-7 in favor of OU. Oklahoma State can lose to OU and it won’t be the end of the world.
If we’re ruling out OU, the candidate for most important game has to be Iowa State or Texas. We simply do not know enough about any other team in the league to choose outside of these three and I’m going with Texas over Iowa State for most important game.
This pick is absolutely subject to Texas doing Texas things. They proclaim that they’re “back” but they also lost to a 7-6 OSU squad last season as well as Maryland. They beat a good, but likely uninspired Georgia team in the Sugar Bowl. Whether Texas is back or not is up for debate but what is undeniable is the program has more energy and momentum than it has since the Horns lost to Alabama in the 2010 National Championship Game. This game is in Austin and OSU will play at Oregon State, McNeese State and at Tulsa before heading to Austin. The Pokes will likely be 3-0 and a win against a Texas program that is returning more talent than most of the league would be enormous.
Following the Texas game is home to Kansas State and at Texas Tech before the bye week. Again, we know less about the Big 12 heading into the year than any other year in recent memory. However, if OSU can start 4-0 and beat Texas in Austin, losing to Kansas State or Texas Tech would be a fairly big slip-up. Beat Texas and you’re looking at a potential 6-0 start heading into the bye week with Kansas still to come