Oklahoma State Cowboys
Head Coach: Mike Gundy
2018 Results: 7-6, 3-6 Conference
Bowl: 38-33 Win over Missouri at Liberty Bowl
O/U 7.5 Wins (O +110; U -140)
National Title: +5000
Oklahoma State managed an upset victory in the Liberty Bowl over Missouri, and it just managed to avoid its first losing season since Mike Gundy began as its coach in 2005. The Cowboys are sure they can avoid further disappointment though and attempt to return to double-digit wins.
The team has a new quarterback, and it is expected to get a lot out of the redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders. Its defense is hardly a strength, though. This year could be an exception to that rule with a lot of defensive playmakers, particularly in the back seven.
Sean Gleeson steps in as offensive coordinator, as Mike Yurcich left for Ohio State. The Cowboys will stick with its spread attack, so the team should be as exciting on the field as ever. Gleeson will look to take some of his success at Princeton and import it to the Cowboys, as his Princeton teams were among the top-scoring units every year.
Gleeson and new line coach Charlie Dickey will look to have the QB position run the football a lot more. Sanders is fit for this role. He was a dual-threat QB in high school and he went 46-6 at the high school ranks while starting all four years. Gundy raved over his arm and his running ability, saying he is a natural playmaker. Sanders battled former Hawaii starter Dru Brown in the spring, but he took the competition fairly easily ad will continue to start in August. He is versatile and has significant upside, but if he falters Brown will be there to provide experienced backup play.
Dylan Wallace is a great wide receiver who ranked No. 2 nationally with 1,491 yards last year. He received first-team All-American honors and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Dillon Stoner and Landon Wolf both return and converted QB Jelani Woods will function as the tight end now. The loss of Justice Hill at running back was not a death blow last year. The team still had Chuba Hubbard and his 106.3 yards per game against Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, and Missouri. Hubbard is a junior track star with a ton of speed and vision, and behind him, the team will have LD Brown, Dezmon Jackson, Jahmyl Jeter and Deondrick Glass. Glass was a four-star Texas prospect.
Returning starters on the line feature Marcus Keyes, Johnny Wilson, and Teven Jenkins. The rest of the unit around them is strong and it should be a solid OL to protect Wallace and the running back core.
The defense has struggled continuously at Oklahoma State. Jim Knowles will enter his second year as defensive coordinator, and he is hoping for some consistency and improvement this year. The team ranked No. 97 in scoring defense last year while ranking No. 112 in total defense. The lone bright spot was its 3.0 sacks per game, which did rank No. 10 in the nation.
The Cowboys secondary is one of its stronger spots. At CB, it has AJ Green and Rodarius Williams, who combined for 52 starts and all-conference level play. Both can matchup one-on-one with the elite receivers in the Big 12. The Cowboys had three freshmen last year at safety, but now all come back with some experience and they were not horrible as freshmen. Kolby Peel, Jarrick Bernard, and Tanner McAlester all showed significant promise. The three will be important this year along with Malcolm Rodriguez who is the team’s returning tackler.
At linebacker, the team lacks depth, but it has some talent. Calvin Bundage is in his third season as a starter and will hope the players around him can show more consistency. Devin Harper is expected to start opposite of Bundage, though he did miss the spring session due to injury. The biggest issue may be up front where the Cowboys lose six players, including all four starters and two key backups. Colorado transfer Israel Antwine started 11 games last year as a freshman. Kyle Junior joins as a graduate transfer. Antwine and Junior bring some experience to an otherwise inexperienced group.
Matt Amendola will be back as the placekicker and is No. 6 in the NCAA’s active scoring list. Aussie punter Tom Hutton joins the team as a 29-year-old with a strong leg. The Cowboys will try to improve its return game after struggling last season.
Oklahoma State was a better team than it showed last year, as it lost four of its six games as a favorite. It should improve on that mark, but perhaps not by a lot. The schedule is a little softer, with a light non-conference schedule that will allow the team to adjust to its new quarterback. It will need to adjust fast, as QB play is vital given the talent that surrounds it. The Cowboys have finished above .500 for 13-straight years, after having only done so for 14 of the 30 seasons before Gundy became its head coach.
Prediction: 8 wins (over)