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Ranking Oklahoma State’s 2017 Road Games by Difficulty



Oklahoma State is a trendy pick to not only win the Big 12, but make it to the college football playoff. There are a lot of reasons for these expectations, namely Mason Rudolph and James Washington, but so too is a schedule that sets up well for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys get three of the other four top five preseason Big 12 teams at home, and get their most difficult games in the middle of the season when they’ve had time to get their feet underneath them.

Despite all of that, there are still some landmines on the schedule. Let’s rank the away games by how big of a road block they are on OSU’s road to a perfect season.

No. 6 — South Alabama

OSU’s first road game should be its easiest. There’s been talk leading up to the season that Gundy and the Cowboys shouldn’t overlook this game, even comparing it to Troy in 2007.

No. The Cowboys should not overlook this game. Of course I have no reason to believe they will. For one, last year’s Central Michigan is not far from the players’ and coaches’ minds. They’re not going to let another game like that happen again.

Also, forget the fact this this South Alabama team is not Troy of 2009. Yes they beat Mississippi State last year, albeit a bad bulldogs team. The kicker: this is not the 2009 Cowboys team. I don’t think Gundy will take it easy on the Jaguars. I think the Cowboys will go into Mobile and pounce and put them away early. There is too much riding on this season not to.

No. 5 – Texas Tech

I could mention that OSU has won eight-straight and that the Red Raiders haven’t beaten the Cowboys since Mike Leach was running the show. Those aren’t the reason this road trip lands at 5th.

The Red Raiders lost a lot from a very good offense last year. If you expect Nic Shimonek to come in an replicate Patrick Mahomes, you’re crazy. If you think the defense is suddenly going to rise up and balance out the losses on the offensive side, you’re crazy.


Look, no matter what, Texas Tech is going to put up some points, but if they couldn’t slow OSU down enough to beat them last year, they certainly won’t be able to this year, even if the game is in Lubbock. Yes, anything can happen, but compared to some of the other games this one just doesn’t scare me that much.

No. 4 – Pittsburgh

I was going to put this game higher, until the news came out last week that Panther coach Pat Narduzzi suspended junior safety Jordan Whitehead and senior linebacker Quintin Wirginis, and kicked senior defensive end Rori Blair off the team.


A team that was already replacing three defensive backs from last year’s team will now lose a talented safety in Whitehead. The junior was a second-team All-ACC pick last year, and was considered by many to be the team’s best returning tackler. All of that on a secondary that last season gave up 333 yards passing on average.

Add to that, defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni, who was dismissed during the spring, and you have a rebuilding defense taking more and more hits. All of that will impact their game against a Cowboy offense that should be one of the best in the nation.

That being said, and despite this game coming in at number four on the list, I do expect a real contest. I just don’t think it’s as daunting of one as it was a few weeks ago.

No. 3 – Iowa State

There aren’t many collegiate fan bases I respect as much as Iowa State’s. Even when their team is bad (which it often has been) they show up to Jack Trice Stadium and pack the house, even in late November.


Combine what will be a rowdy fanbase, and what should be an improving team, and Iowa State makes for a dangerous road game. The Cyclones didn’t start the season well last year, but ended it by winning two of their last three, and staying competitive in most of their games. Including, need I remind you, a game in Stillwater where OSU had to score 17 unanswered in the fourth quarter to pull off a come-from-behind victory. That came one year after OSU had to score 14 unanswered in the fourth quarter for a come-from-behind victory in Ames.

I’m not even going to mention 2011 here, even if it does back up my argument. This is a dangerous game on the schedule, one that, as it often does, comes in the cold of November. Let’s all cross our fingers now for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.

No. 2 – West Virginia

There are three reasons this is a dangerous road game.

For one thing, this might be the craziest fanbase in the Big 12. I love OSU fans, but we don’t chug moonshine and burn couches, win or lose. Fans will be loud and rowdy, especially if their team is playing well. Throw in the fact that this game is on Halloween weekend and that only ups the wild factor. And if it’s a night game? Pray to your God for an 11:00 a.m. kick-off now!

Two, I think the Mountaineers are the most underrated team in the Big 12 heading into the season. I think Will Grier is the Big 12’s wild card. If he exceeds expectations, the Mountaineers could be in for another 10 win season like 2016. However, if he fails to live up to those expectations, hello 7-5.

Finally, OSU hasn’t been great in Morgantown. The Cowboys are 1-1 at Milan Puskar Stadium since the Mountaineers joined the league, with the solo win a nail-biter the Pokes almost gave away. The loss? That embarrassing game in 2013 that OSU had zero business losing.


I know we thumped WVU last year. This is a new year and we’re not playing in Stillwater this time.

No. 1 – Texas

This is not the Texas team of the past few years.

The Longhorns are probably still a year or two away from winning the Big 12, but they’re ready to shake up the league this year. Herman was a solid coach at Houston and is proving to be an excellent recruiter. This team has talent at every position and extra to spare. I expect Shane Buechele to take a step forward, which would solve the Longhorn’s biggest question mark from the past few seasons, the quarterback position.

Add to that, the fanbase is excited. Expectations are probably still too high, but at least they feel like they have something to be excited about; the future.

I wish this game was earlier in the season. Texas will have time to get their feet under them and work out the kinks. Don’t let Houston’s four losses last year fool you, Herman was busy planning his exit to Texas. The man will have all of his focus on winning, something Texas hasn’t done a lot of lately.

Outside of Bedlam, this is OSU’s most dangerous game. Get past it, and this really can be a magical season for the Cowboys.



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