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Spring Football: With Alan Bowman Back, Oklahoma State Has an Opportunity to Stake its Claim in New-Look Big 12

The Cowboys have a decent mix of established experience and intriguing potential.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Spring football is right around the corner, and Mike Gundy has a lot of experience in his QB room. A lot more than he could have had.

Coming off a 10-win season, and a relatively undramatic transfer portal season, the Cowboys head into this spring in much better shape than they were last year at this time. And thanks to an NCAA decision that actually favored OSU, the Cowboys return one of the most experienced quarterbacks in college football.

Let’s kick off our spring position preview series with the most crucial position, the Cowboys’ QBs.

Bowman Is Back

Through a confluence of injuries, COVID eligibility and a rare NCAA decision, Alan Bowman is looking forward to his seventh year of college football this fall.

Bowman ranked second in the Big 12 in passing last season, despite taking turns on an extended QB carousel ride early in 2023 and not being given the reins of the offensive until conference play commenced. He wasn’t a world-beater, and he wasn’t always perfect, but Bowman captained the Cowboys to a Bedlam bookend win, the Big 12 Championship game and 10 wins. QB1 should be his to lose, but there are some interesting options behind him.

Because of one of his season-ending injuries at Texas Tech and his redshirt at Michigan, the NCAA allowed Bowman a rare seventh year of eligibility. Once that was announced, Bowman made public his intention to run it back with the Pokes.

Who Else?

Garret Rangel is the only other quarterback on the roster with college experience, having thrown six touchdowns to six picks in nine games over the previous two seasons. The other carousel rider, Gunnar Gundy, entered the transfer portal during the offseason.

The Cowboys were, however, able to retain the services of touted 2023 signee Zane Flores. Flores redshirted last season but was top 20 QB prospect and now, a year older and wiser in the system, he could be ready to make a push up the QB pecking order.

Who’s New?

OSU added Maealiuaki Smith, a three-star signee out of California. Smith was the No. 22 passer in the class, according to ESPN, and he chose the Pokes over offers from the likes of Washington, Florida State and Colorado.

Number That Matters: 14

The Cowboys were second to last in the Big 12 with 16 interceptions last season (Texas Tech had 18), and 14 of those were Bowman’s, who led the league in throwaways. He held a TD-to-INT rate of just 15:14. That ratio needs to tip to the left for the Cowboys to take the next step in 2024. Bowman will have the benefit of the doubt (and experience), but he needs to clean that up.

QB Outlook

Bowman probably won’t land on many preseason watch lists, but his return checks a HUGE box for OSU. The Cowboys went from a big question mark behind center to boasting one of the more stable and experienced QBs in the Big 12. And with OSU 10 returning starters on each side of the ball, including a superstar like Ollie Gordon, that should be enough for an exciting 2024.

Thanks to Texas and OU having left the Big 12, OSU returns the second-best passing offense behind only TCU, and the Horned Frogs are practically replacing their entire O-line. Moreover, the Cowboys want to stake their claim in the new-look Big 12, and they’ll need a dynamic offense to do so. But to have that, OSU doesn’t need Bowman to be a world-beater, just a Steady Eddie who takes his shots down field when the defense allows them. If Bowman can clean things up a bit, lean on his playmakers and lean on his defense, the Cowboys should be in good shape.

Spring QB Depth Chart Prediction

QB1 Alan Bowman
QB2 Zane Flores
QB3 Garret Rangel
QB4 Maealiuaki Smith

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