Oklahoma State football will have some big shoes to fill during the 2018 season. Quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington, the program’s respective all-time leaders in passing and receiving yards, are both in the NFL now.
Thankfully, Mike Gundy and the Cowboys appear to be catching a break when it comes to scheduling.
CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli on Thursday ranked the strength of every Big 12 team’s 2018 schedule. Of all 10 member schools, Oklahoma State was deemed to have the easiest schedule.
Unlike the majority of Big 12 teams, the Cowboys do not have a Power 5 opponent in nonconference play this fall. The Pokes will also benefit from having West Virginia, who is set to boast one of the most potent offenses in college football in 2018, pay a visit to Stillwater this season.
Nonetheless, Oklahoma State will have to pay visits to the top 2 finishers in the Big 12 last season — Oklahoma and TCU.
But on that note, here’s what Fornelli had to say about what makes Oklahoma State football’s 2018 schedule easier than most:
“If Oklahoma State wins the Big 12 this season, you can bet its schedule will be used against it in a court of CFP worthiness. The nonconference features a home game against Boise State, but that’s not worth as much as it may have been five years ago. Its other two games are against Missouri State and South Alabama. Where Oklahoma State will likely have a case is that if it beats both Oklahoma and TCU this season, it will have beaten both on the road, and both in the final three weeks of the regular season. So the memory of those wins would be fresh in the minds of the CFP committee.”
With the offseason departures, it’s unlikely that Oklahoma State will have the depth and firepower needed to compete for a Big 12 title. ESPN’s FPI projections have the Cowboys, who won 10 games each of the last three seasons, at just 8.4 wins in 2018.
Then again, stranger things have happened. But as Fornelli suggested, Oklahoma State’s schedule — if anything — could prove to be the team’s saving grace for the 2018 campaign.
The Cowboys kickoff the regular season vs. Missouri State on Sept. 1 at Boone Pickens Stadium. Big 12 play begins for Oklahoma State at home vs. Texas Tech in Week 4.