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Season Preview: OSU Could Get Off to a Fast Start in 2018

Starting 6-0 is a real possibility for OSU, but what does that mean in the long run?



Asking any coach to predict his team’s record in August will evoke crossed arms. Ask Mike Gundy and you might get a calloused sneer followed by some rendition of we’ll know a lot more in two months.

But we are open to speak on such things and a glance at OSU’s schedule shows an opportunity for Gundy’s 2018 team to do something that only his most talented groups have — get off to an early perfect start.

Oklahoma State has gotten off to fast starts of at least 6-0 on several occasions during Gundy’s tenure thanks to some dynamic offenses led by some all-time tandems the likes of Zac and Dez, Weeden and Blackmon and Rudolph and Washington.

We could also point to the lack of elite nonconference opponents in Weeks 1-3. And you could juxtapose early success in recent years to stumbling late, when OSU defenses seemingly ran out of gas by the time they faced the OUs, TCUs and recently Kansas States (?) of the world in November. More on that below. 

Regardless of the reason, Oklahoma State has entered the second half of its schedule flawless in four seasons under Mike Gundy and I think it has a good chance to make it five in 2018. Here are the first four.

2015 — 10-0
2011 — 10-0
2010 — 6-0
2008 — 7-0

Let’s take a look at the Cowboys’ 2018 slate through mid October.

Home vs. Missouri State
Home vs. South Alabama
Home vs. Boise State
Home vs. Texas Tech
Away at Kansas
Home vs. Iowa State

That new gargantuan video board will get a lot of early use with five of OSU’s first six at home. Add in an road game-lite in Lawrence and there’s a good chance Oklahoma State will be favored to win its first half dozen.

The one wildcard here is Boise State, the highest ranked Group of 5 school at No. 22 in the Amway Coaches preseason poll. OSU came in below the Broncos at 25. The AP also tabbed Boise State as the No. 22 team while leaving the Cowboys out.

What advantage could a quick start provide?

Unfortunately, starting fast hasn’t always resulted in postseason hardware for OSU. Obviously, it’s easier to pick up a win against Missouri State than Florida State. *realizes J.W. Walsh almost helped that 2014 team start 6-0 as well.*

The notion of unbeaten teams carrying some type of momentum seems to be more a fabricated storyline than a dependable rule.

In Gundy’s third season, the Zac Robinson/Dez Bryant-led 2008 team faltered late, going 2-4 against a back-loaded slate that included losses to Top 15 opponents Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oregon.

The 2010 team would have arrived at that heart breaker of a Bedlam game in Norman 10-0 had it not been for the hiccup against No. 20 Nebraska. In 2011, the Cowboys were just better than everyone — except Iowa State. ?

In 2015, every ball bounced the Cowboys’ way… until it didn’t. The Pokes had about as much momentum as one could want after thrashing No. 10 TCU at home and starting 10-zip. Baylor provided a mismatch on both the offensive and defensive lines and the ensuing injury to Mason Rudolph made OSU’s Big 12 title hopes a pipe dream.

If there is one qualifier for the 2018 season — should the Cowboys make the 6-0 mark — it’s the benefit of breaking in a new starting quarterback the early schedule could provide. Cornelius (assuming he keeps hold of the reins) is afforded the chance to come along slowly against lesser competition, and to build confidence and a connection with some of his new targets.

Before you point out that Brandon Weeden made his first start against Washington State in 2010, let’s be honest. We aren’t expecting Cornelius and the 2018 squad to mirror the success of Dana Holgorsen’s first chance to run an offense. And if they do, Cornelius is still not the surefire QB1 that Weeden was at anytime during either offseason.

Looking forward at late 2018

November’s are normally a murderer’s row for the Pokes, but this one could prove fatal for a team replacing its winningest QB and its all-time leading receiver while hitting the reset button on defense.

A quick glance at the 2018 docket and it’s clear that the Cowboys had better make it through that early slate relatively healthy and with fresher legs than in years past. Added depth at both the offensive and defensive line should help.

Away at Kansas State
Home vs. Texas
Away at Baylor
Away at Oklahoma
Home vs. West Virginia
Away at TCU

Who knows, maybe OSU tears off a 9-0 before heading to Norman. Maybe they drop a couple conference games before Halloween. All I know is that the level of intrigue this season presents is as high as any I can remember, and I’m ready for it to start.

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