OSU redux: How the Cowboys’ 2023 schedule looks now

OSU redux: How the Cowboys’ 2023 schedule looks now

Oklahoma State’s schedule — perceived as relatively easy in the offseason — is easier to judge with three weeks of results. The outlook is not quite as rosy.

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

| Sep 21, 2023, 2:44pm CDT

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

Sep 21, 2023, 2:44pm CDT

Oklahoma State fans had reason to groan over the news of Arizona State’s 29-0 home loss to Fresno State last week. 

The Cowboys’ 27-15 win over the now 1-2 Sun Devils no longer looks so good.

OSU’s schedule projected as a relatively easy one. The Cowboys don’t play four teams voted in the top half of the Big 12 preseason poll — Texas, Texas Tech, TCU and Baylor.

Three weeks of games provide data to judge anew OSU’s schedule. Here’s a game-by-game review and preview.

OSU 27, Central Arkansas 13, Sept. 2 in Stillwater: That win moves the barometer the least. Central Arkansas has since dismantled NAIA opponent Texas College, 70-2, and lost to North Dakota State, 49-31. This won’t be a win for OSU to hang its hat on, nor should it be. Verdict: Still a run-of-the-mill victory.

OSU 27, Arizona State 15, Sept. 9 in Tempe, Arizona: Road wins against Power Five teams are usually impressive. Not so when the opponent gets shutout at home by Fresno. Verdict: Nothing to brag about.

South Alabama 33, OSU 7, Sept. 16 in Stillwater: Is South Alabama an embarrassing opponent for OSU to lose to, or an Sun Belt Conference foe on the verge of a breakthrough? Tulane, which received 13 votes in the AP poll, blew out the Jaguars 37-17 in the opener. South Alabama bounced back to beat Southeastern Louisiana 35-17. If South Alabama had beaten Tulane, perhaps OSU’s loss to South Alabama would be more explainable. But for now, it does not age well. Verdict: Bad loss.

Sept. 23 at Iowa State, 3 p.m. (FS1): OSU and Iowa State fans can commiserate. Both teams have gotten off to poor starts. The Cyclones were projected as a beatable foe. Their start and turmoil only reinforces that narrative. The Cyclones have lost to Iowa and Ohio, validating ISU’s tenth-place preseason projection in the Big 12. Verdict: Looks easier.

Oct. 6 versus Kansas State, 6:30 p.m. OSU’s 48-0 loss in Manhattan last year is hard to shake, and KSU had climbed to a No. 15 ranking — then fell out of the poll with a last-minute loss at MIssouri. Don’t look too much into that. The Wildcats are averaging 38 points and will present a big challenge to OSU. Verdict: Will be tough, but it looked harder two weeks ago.

Oct. 14 versus Kansas, 6:30 p.m. (FS1): The time to catch KU will probably be gone by the middle of October. The Jayhawks have started 3-0 and got quarterback Jalon Daniels, the Big 12 preseason player of the year, is back from injury. KU got 15 votes in the latest AP poll.  Verdict: Will still be tough

Oct. 21 at West Virginia (Time TBA): West Virginia was obliterated 38-15 by No. 7 Penn State in the opener but recovered to pummel Duquesne and win at home game against Pittsburgh 17-6. Not bad for being ranked last in the Big 12 preseason poll. It’s a more respectable 2-1 record than the Cowboys have. Verdict: Remains winnable.

Oct. 28 versus Cincinnati (Time TBA): It has not been a good leadup to the Big 12 for Cincinnati. The Bearcats are 1-2. Week 1 was a triumphant 66-13 win against Eastern Kentucky. The next two weeks were anything but. Cincinnati won 27-21 at Pittsburgh and lost 31-24 at home against Miami (Ohio). Verdict: Looks easier.

Nov. 4 versus Oklahoma  (Time TBA): Bedlam is usually difficult for OSU. The final Bedlam as Big 12 opponents is shaping up that way, too. The Sooners are 3-0 and twice have topped 65 points. Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel has been floated as an early Heisman Trophy candidate. Verdict: Looks harder.

Nov. 11 at Central Florida (Time TBA):  The 3-0 Knights are off and running in their Big 12 inaugural season, with two blowout wins and an 18-16 victory over Boise State on the blue turf. UCF is a potential future Big 12 powerhouse due to its 60,000+ student enrollment and location in fertile recruiting ground. The Knights might be pretty good now, too. Verdict: Looks harder.

Nov. 18 at Houston (Time TBA):The Cougars are struggling. After a 17-14 win against UTSA in the season opener, Houston lost in overtime to Rice and then 36-13 against TCU. At 1-2 with a conference loss, Houston is last in the Big 12 standings. Verdict: Easier.

Nov. 25 against BYU  (Time TBA):The other Cougars in the new-look Big 12 have started strong. BYU is 3-0 with home wins against Sam Houston and Southern Utah. BYU also notched its most impressive win at Arkansas, beating the Razorbacks 38-31. While a first run through Big 12 play will reveal much more about BYU, the Cougars look strong so far. Verdict: Will be tough.

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Sam Hutchens covers Oklahoma State sport for Sellout Crowd. He interned for The Stillwater News Press in 2021 and The Guthrie News Leader in 2022, where he won a first-place OPA award for in-depth reporting. He has also covered sports in southwest Oklahoma for The Lawton Constitution. He strives to tell you the OSU sports stories that you want to tell your friends about. You can email him at [email protected] and connect on Twitter (X) @Sam_Hutchens_

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