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A Third of the Way Through, a Look at Oklahoma State’s Schedule

No opponent left on OSU’s schedule has a losing record.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Good news for Oklahoma State: the Cowboys are only 1/3 of the way through their schedule so there’s still time to turn things around after a disappointing 2-2 start.

Bad news for Oklahoma State: the Cowboys finished what looks to be the easiest part of their schedule at 2-2 so the road only gets tougher after the bye week.

One of the biggest storylines for 2023 was OSU’s weak schedule that started with an FCS program, a Power Five program that went 3-9 last season and didn’t feature the likes of Texas, TCU or Texas Tech in conference play. The path the Cowboys were gifted is why I even said they had a chance to reach 10 wins in 2023. But the team wound up being even softer than its schedule.

Before we use this bye week to dive into what OSU has faced so far and what’s ahead, here’s a look at the Cowboys’ schedule with results so far and opponents’ record through four weeks.

OpponentCurrent Record
Central Arkansas (W, 27-13)2-2
at Arizona State (W, 27-15)1-3
South Alabama (L, 33-7)2-2
at Iowa State (L, 34-27)2-2
Kansas State3-1
at West Virginia3-1
at Central Florida3-1
at Houston2-2

The Cowboys have yet to play a team that has a winning record after Week 4. OSU’s season-opening win against Central Arkansas was the only time so far an opponent won its next matchup. UCA beat Texas College (not university, or even state) the next week, but a win is a win, I guess.

OSU beat Arizona State Week 2– its only win over an FBS opponent so far. A week after losing to the Cowboys, ASU was shut out by Fresno State, 29-0. The Sun Devils haven’t won since a 24-21 Week 1 win against Southern Utah.

Those first two games went as projected, for the most part. It was assumed this team full of turnover wouldn’t be spectacular, but it would still presumably be good enough to get past an FCS foe at home and ASU on the road. Although it may have been aggravating to watch, the Cowboys did just that. OSU struggled its way to 2-0.

The Cowboys’ first third of their season concluded with back-to-back losses to South Alabama and Iowa State, though. That Jaguars matchup looked dangerous even before the season kicked off after South Alabama went 10-3 last year. South Alabama had a respectable loss to then-No. 24 Tulane before its trip to Stillwater. However, after dominating OSU, the Jaguars lost to a 2-2 Central Michigan squad 34-30 the next week. Time and results will decide how we gauge that loss to South Alabama when 2023 concludes.

As for that most recent loss to Iowa State– it may also be too early to rate. Saturday against OSU was the first time this season the Cyclones looked functioning, coming off a 10-7 loss to Ohio. Either ISU started to figure things out after its nonconference slate, or OSU just made it seem that way.

Iowa State’s roster was gutted by gambling acquisitions right before the season kicked off, which removed its starting quarterback from the roster. The state of ISU’s program alone had that road trip to Ames looking like it could have been one of OSU’s best chances at a conference win. It might not be until Nov. 18 at Houston until the Cowboys get another wounded Big 12 foe served up like that.

After back-to-back losses and a week off, OSU will return to action with a Friday primetime matchup on ESPN with defending Big 12 champion Kansas State. The 3-1 Wildcats are also getting a break this week after handing Central Florida its first loss of the season, 44-31.

And that’s not the peak of OSU’s worries ahead. A Big 12 that’s not laying down in its last season with OU and Texas is not looking to be to the benefit of the Pokes yet.

While the Cowboys’ first four games didn’t include a team with a winning record, the rest of the schedule doesn’t feature an opponent with a losing record, as all are at least at .500 through four weeks, and all but two are above.

After K-State on the schedule is undefeated Kansas. Oklahoma is also undefeated and ranked, slated for Nov. 4.

The .500 teams include Cincinnati and Houston. Everyone else is at least 3-1.

In its Big 12 debut, Cincinnati held OU to 20 points in a loss. The Sooners were averaging 55.7 points a game before then, so the Bearcats aren’t an easy win despite being a Big 12 newcomer.

Houston is also a newbie and could be OSU’s best remaining shot at a win, which is scary to think about the Cowboys going through the entire month of October and then some without a W. It also seems impossible considering the recent success of a program that was winning a Fiesta Bowl less than two years ago. But the only thing impossible is things being impossible.

Marshall wrote before OSU’s loss to Iowa State about its 17-year bowl streak being in serious danger. That would require at least four more wins for the Pokes. And based on the schedule ahead and how the Cowboys have performed the past two weeks, qualifying for a bowl would equate to a successful end to 2023 for OSU.

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