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Floor-Ceiling 2018: How High (or Low?) Can Oklahoma State Go?

Mike Gundy has won 10 games in six of eight years. Can he do it again in 2018?



When I imagine about the 2018 Oklahoma State football season, I’m not sure what to believe, but I feel confident in how to think.

Let me explain. We have nearly a full decade’s worth of evidence that proves Mike Gundy knows what he’s doing when it comes to winning (lots) of college football games. Here are Gundy’s win totals since the offense flipped in 2010.


This is remarkable. The number of national programs who would do unspeakable things for a 7- or 8-win floor is higher than you’d think. The number of national programs who would do those same things for six (!) 10-win seasons in the last eight is even longer.

Obviously the corn-eating elephant in the room resides behind center, but the case I’ve been slowly coming around to goes something like this:

  • Two of Mike Gundy’s three best defenses have come with first-year defensive coordinators at the helm.
  • OSU’s infrastructure on the offensive line and defensive lines as well as the skill positions is far superior to 2014, when it struggled mightily.
  • OSU’s QB situation is far superior to 2014 AND 2012 when you consider 1. Daxx and 2. Wes Lunt was basically Spencer Sanders in 2012. Spencer Sanders is the third string QB this year.
  • Taylor Cornelius might actually be, gulp, really good.

I realize not all of those are going to hit. They’re not all going to be true of the Pokes in 2018, but when you add them up, I think OSU’s floor and ceiling looks something like this.

2018 Floor

OSU loses to Boise State, TCU, one of Texas and West Virginia and gets walloped by OU. Then it loses a bowl game against Florida or UCLA or somebody like that and Dru Brown and the S.S. Savior duke it out for QB1 going into the spring.

I know it sounds sort of insane to say that Oklahoma State (of all teams!) could have a floor of 8-4 in the regular season, but that’s legitimately how I feel right now. Think about what befuddled them in 2012 and 2014, their only non-10-win campaigns. It was QB health and depth. That’s not the issue it … pauses to watch 10 minutes of 2018 Hawaii film … no, that’s not the issue it was in those seasons.

Or maybe the kool-aid has been spiked and I have partied too hard this preseason.

2018 Ceiling

Oklahoma State plays OU for the Big 12 title. Mike Gundy moves to 2-13 against OU after losing in Stillwater, Norman and Arlington within the span of 13 months. OSU beats Michigan in a bowl game to go 11-3.

I don’t believe Oklahoma State can win the Big 12 championship, but I do think they can play for a trophy. One of the unintended benefits for teams like OSU that are good enough to think about being top two but probably not good enough to think about being No. 1 is that your fan base (and players and coaches and team) stay engaged for longer periods of time. No longer are you booted from conference title dreams after one or two losses, but rather you’re able to talk yourself into being one game from a Big Boy Bowl deeper and deeper into the season.

Forget everything I said about how dumb the Big 12 title game is — this is a great benefit — maybe the greatest benefit — for OSU!

2018 Reality

I suppose I think OSU will start strong and fade late. Losses to either Boise or Texas or WVU and losses to OU and TCU. This seems like the fairest, most reasonable wager. The Pokes go on to play Arizona in a nice bowl to set up yet another 10-win season, their seventh in nine years. And again, Texas is ranked ahead of them to start the 2019 season following a 7-6 campaign in which at least their players’ pee pee was closer to clear than it was to yellow.

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