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Should Oklahoma State have a backup plan for its 2020 season opener?

If the Pac-12 doesn’t have football next fall, what options do the Cowboys have for a new opponent.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

We are four months away from the scheduled start of the 2020 college football season, but even so, questions continue to mount as to what it is actually going to look like if it happens due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One thing that’s looking more and more possible every day is Oklahoma State will need a new season opener.

On Tuesday, the California State University system Chancellor announced all 23 state universities will not allow students on campus this fall. While that doesn’t include the Pac-12 — it does include the Mountain West’s Fresno State, San Diego State and San Jose State — it has still made people uneasy about Pac-12 football happening this fall.

Earlier this month, Oregon governor Kate Brown announced events with large gatherings would be unlikely through September: “The Oregon Health Authority is advising that any large gathering at least through September should be canceled or modified.”

The Cowboys’ opener against Oregon State is set for Sept. 3 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, but it would still be wise for Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder to set up a backup plan.

There are reports Alabama and TCU, two teams who play Pac-12 teams in their season openers, are already talking about scheduling each other as a fall back option.

If the battle of the Orange OSUs Part 2 can’t happen as scheduled, what should Oklahoma State do? The answer is fairly simple; call another team who had a Week 1 opponent from the Pac-12.

Alabama (SEC)
Colorado State (Mountain West)
BYU (Independent)
Hawaii (Mountain West)
Michigan (Big Ten)
North Dakota State (FCS Missouri Valley)
Northern Arizona (FCS Big Sky)
Portland State (FCS Big Sky)
TCU (Big 12)
Utah State (Mountain West)
William & Mary (FCS Colonial Athletic Association)

Now, let’s trim this list down.

Let’s take out TCU because the Cowboys already have them scheduled for Oct. 3 in Fort Worth, and Alabama is out too since they’re already talking to TCU. The Cowboys already has one FCS team — Western Illinois on Sept. 19 in Stillwater — on their schedule, so we can eliminate the four FCS teams. The three Mountain West teams cause some concern on whether or not their league will play this fall given the aforementioned issues.

This leaves the Cowboys with two options: BYU and Michigan.

The overwhelming choice by Cowboys fans on Twitter was Michigan, but some also thought the idea of BYU would be “fun.” A match-up against a “blue blood” like Michigan and coach Jim Harbaugh would be must-watch TV both for OSU fans and nationally. If the game can be played in Stillwater, even better.

Yes, BYU has been down a bit the past three seasons, but it’s still a highly respected program that would draw some eyeballs. Either option would be better than the alternative of losing a game on the schedule or the aforementioned second FCS game.

It’s only May and a lot will happen between now and then concerning the coronavirus and how colleges and universities plan to return to campus. It’d be brash to make a definitive decision or statement at this point, but having a contingency plan in place is smart and being proactive about it — like Alabama and TCU — is even better.