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What is a Successful Football Season for Oklahoma State in 2020?

How many wins does OSU need to rack up?

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What does a successful football season for Oklahoma State look like?

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? It’s always an interesting question because it’s always up for debate, but it’s an especially interesting question in the middle of a pandemic in which the season has been shortened to 10 games and all semblance of what we know to be normal has been tossed out the window.

So let’s start with normal and work our way backward from there. Here is how I define success for Oklahoma State football in the era they’re currently in: Seven conference wins. That’s it. If you win seven Big 12 games, you’re probably going to go 9-3 or 10-2 on the year, depending on your non-conference schedule. And you’re going to have a shot at playing for the Big 12 title (which should be the only actual goal to start the year).

If you win seven conference games you’re probably going to win either nine or 10 overall. And that’s something they have done eight times since 2008. Here’s a look at OKC Dave’s survey results that show how many wins OSU fans have predicted and how many OSU has actually won (actual = regular season only).

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I think we would all agree that 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 were successful years. Those were the years that OSU won seven conference games. They only played eight conference games in the years leading up to those years so you can throw in 2008, 2009 and 2010 in as successes as well. That leaves 2017. Was 2017 a successful year? OSU went 6-3 in the Big 12 with losses to OU, Kansas State and TCU.

I could go either way on this, but I think the argument that 2017 was not a successful year could be made pretty, well, successfully. Non-conference games matter for three reasons: Prestige/attention, money and if you’re trying to play for a national championship. So I’m not as concerned about those as I am about conference games because I’m not under the illusion that OSU is going to be playing for many national championships.

Therefore, Big 12 games are what really, really matters to me. If you go 9-3 by going 7-2 in conference and losing to Central Michigan that to me is better than going 9-3 by losing three Big 12 games. There are infinite ways to define this stuff though.

As for this year, because the Big 12 schedule is still intact and you get a nearly auto-win against Tulsa, I think a successful season is probably 8-2. Go 7-2 in the Big 12 and beat Tulsa. Sounds so easy! Last year, 7-2 in the Big 12 did not get you into the Big 12 title game, but in the two previous years, it did. So based on the data we have, you have a 66 percent chance of playing for a conference title if you go 7-2 in conference. Again, the only goal starting out the season should be to play for a conference crown.

Here’s OKC Dave again with OSU’s percent chance of winning X number of games based on our confidence level on each individual game.

That seems … right.

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One thing OKC Dave’s survey has proven is that OSU fans have a good grasp on what OSU is and should be capable of, both historically and for this year. Seven conference wins is a really good year any year, even if it won’t look as robust in the W-L column this time around. If you do it, though, you’re probably going to be in Dallas for Round 2 with somebody for what would be OSU’s first-ever (!) true Big 12 title game (not counting the four they played for between 2011-2016).

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