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Scott: Five Predictions for the 2023 Oklahoma State Football Season

On Kendal Daniels, the noncon schedule and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

A week from now, it’ll be game week at long last.

So, in doing some final prep work for Oklahoma State’s 2023 season, it’s time to make a few predictions. We’ll have our sitewide predictions complete with records, Big 12 finish and other goodies later in the week, but here are five other predictions I have for OSU entering 2023.

1. Kendal Daniels Earns All-America Honors

I’m a “wait and see” guy on most of Oklahoma State’s turnover in 2023.

Will bringing back tight ends and fullbacks help in OSU’s run game? Let’s wait and see. What will Alan Bowman be like after playing minimally the past two seasons? Let’s wait and see. Will OSU’s 2023 receiving corps. be an upgrade from the Pokes’ 2022 group? Let’s wait and see.

One topic I’m believing all the hype on, however, is Kendal Daniels playing rover in Bryan Nardo’s defense.

Chris Farnsworth was Nardo’s rover (the safety position Daniels will play) at Gannon last season. Farnsworth is 5-foot-11, 189 pounds and finished the 2022 season with 91 total tackles, four interceptions and seven pass breakups — all stats he led Gannon in. So basically, Farnsworth was everywhere. Now imagine, a 6-foot-4, 213-pound alien playing that spot.

Even as a redshirt freshman in 2022, Daniels impressed with 71 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and five PBUs. He made big plays whether they be intercepting passes or blowing a ball carrier up to force a fumble. I’m uber-excited to see Daniels after another year in the weight room and a system that allows him to play freely.

2. Two OSU Running Backs Outrush the OSU’s Leading Rusher from 2022

The Cowboys stunk at running the football in 2022.

Dominic Richardson was OSU’s leading rusher with 543 yards. I think two OSU running backs will eclipse that total in 2023.

The running game has been a point of emphasis this offseason with more gap schemes being implemented, as well as the aforementioned renewal of tight ends and fullbacks.

Although I’m not totally sold on OSU’s running game taking a monumental step forward in 2023, I do think that with all the attention on the run game, it’ll be better to the point that two of Ollie Gordon, Jaden Nixon and Elijah Collins can get 550 yards on the ground.

3. A League Newcomer Beats the Pokes

The Cowboys get all four league newcomers in 2023 — vs. Cincinnati (Oct. 28), at UCF (Nov. 11), at Houston (Nov. 18) and vs. BYU (Nov. 25). I think one of those teams is going to clip the Cowboys.

I think UCF will be the most likely. The Knights have already sold out that game, and it’s UCF’s space game, meaning the Bounce House will be extra bouncy. If I had to list the others in order of most likely to beat OSU to least likely, I’d say BYU, Houston and then Cincy.

Overall the schedule is favorable to OSU in that the Cowboys get to play all the newcomers. And they play the newcomers at the end of the year, when depth issues for new Power Five teams are most likely to pop up. But I just have an eerie feeling about that UCF game in particular.

4. Alan Bowman Starts Every Game at Quarterback

Not since 2018 has one man started every game in a season at quarterback for OSU — shoutout Taylor Cornelius.

That was part of the roller coaster of the Spencer Sanders era. Dru Brown started games in 2019, Shane Illingworth in 2020 and 2021, and Garret Rangel and Gunnar Gundy each started in 2022.

This is a bit of a risky take given Bowman’s injury history, but I think him not putting himself in harm’s way as much as Sanders did will keep him on the field.

5. The Nonconference Will Be Uncomfortable

OSU hasn’t lost a nonconference game (not including bowls) since 2016 (don’t look it up, it’ll ruin your day). There have been a handful of close shaves since then — all of 2021 and Tulsa in 2020. Although I’m not predicting OSU to lose a noncon game in 2023, I think it is possible.

OSU and Arizona State both have a ton of roster turnover entering their Sept. 9 matchup in Tempe, so who knows what that game will bring? Secondly, South Alabama is receiving votes in both major polls. The Jaguars have a fun matchup against Tulane to start the year and could come into Stillwater immensely confident should they knock off the Green Wave.

So, the noncon schedule could already be tricky to traverse and that doesn’t mention the fact that OSU has a lot of new parts that need to mesh in those opening weeks.

If I had to put percentages on it, I’d say OSU has a 65% chance of starting the year 3-0, a 30% chance of starting the year 2-1 and a 5% chance of starting the year 1-2. So, still most likely to win them all, but it could be a little sweaty.

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