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Oklahoma State football: Best-case, worst-case scenario for each game of 2022 season

STILLWATER — With head coach Mike Gundy one win away from 150 for his career, the 11th-ranked Oklahoma State football team is set to lift the lid on the 2022 football season in less than a week. 


Here’s the best- and worst-case scenarios for each game of the Cowboys’ schedule:

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Sept. 1 vs. Central Michigan (6 p.m., FS1)

Best case: Points on the board early, lots of reserves in the game for the second half, particularly backup quarterbacks Gunnar Gundy and Garret Rangel. The Cowboys need to develop depth and the best way to do it is with game action in not-so-intense situations, like an opening-week blowout. 

Worst case: Why bother wasting space to explain it. Oklahoma State fans already lived this scenario. And for those who don’t know, just Google “Oklahoma State-Central Michigan 2016.”

Sept. 10 vs. Arizona State (6:30 p.m., ESPN2)

Best case: Based on the chaotic offseason roster turnover the Sun Devils dealt with, this is another opportunity for OSU to operate smoothly out of the gate and get a big lead, providing the opportunity to play more backups.

Worst case: This is still a Power Five program with talented players in some important positions. A shaky offensive performance like the Cowboys had in non-conference games last year, and Arizona State might be able to take advantage and pull the upset.

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Sept. 17 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6 p.m., ESPN+)

Best case: On Sept. 1, 2012, OSU beat Savannah State 84-0. This could be a repeat.

Worst case: UAPB was a below-average FCS program last year. It won’t win this game. So the danger for OSU is health. Losing a starter or two in a game like this, with Baylor next up on the schedule, would be a significant blow.

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Oct. 1 at Baylor

Best case: Coming off an open week after cruising through the non-conference schedule, OSU should be primed for some revenge on the Bears, with the sting of that Baylor victory in last year’s Big 12 title game still lingering in Stillwater. 

Worst case: OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders threw seven interceptions in two games against Baylor last year. If the Bears are still dialed in on him, they could swing this one their way pretty easily.

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Oct. 8 vs. Texas Tech

Best case: On the home field for the fourth time in the first five games, the Pokes should be feeling comfortable and coast to a victory while Texas Tech’s new coach, Joey McGuire, is still trying to settle in.

Worst case: Quarterback Tyler Shough, an Oregon transfer, has the talent to bring Texas Tech back to respectability in a hurry, and an upset at Boone Pickens Stadium would turn a lot of heads.

More:Told to ‘suck it up,’ Oklahoma State’s Brendon Evers returns to bolster defensive line

Oct. 15 at TCU

Best case: This was one of OSU’s rare blowout wins last season, steamrolling the Horned Frog defense with the run game. This year, it’s more likely that the blowouts come through the air, but regardless, the offense has the capability of posting a big number. 

Worst case: The Cowboys have been upset in their last two trips to Fort Worth, and in three of the last five meetings with TCU overall. Despite the fact that TCU is in its first year with coach Sonny Dykes, the trend remains. 

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Oct. 22 vs. Texas

Best case: Nothing to sugarcoat here. The Cowboys have won eight of the last 12 against the Horns, completely flipping the series script. And with so many players from Texas high schools on the OSU roster, this game still means something extra.

Worst case: The Cowboys struggled to slow down Texas running back Bijan Robinson for more than half the game last year, until the Horns panicked and abandoned the rushing attack. If Robinson gets going again, don’t expect coach Steve Sarkisian to make the same mistake.

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Oct. 29 at Kansas State

Best case: The Cowboys will reach the final weekend of October having played just two road games, which should have them uncharacteristically fresh at this point of the season. That’ll help pull out the victory in the hostile environment of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. 

Worst case: Manhattan, Kansas, hasn’t been kind to the Cowboys in the last decade, with a mix of close wins and ugly losses. Factor in the recent uptick in talent and the Wildcats are in position to hand the Pokes a big L. 

More:Oklahoma State football names backup QB & more takeaways from Mike Gundy’s news conference

Nov. 5 at Kansas

Best case: OSU hasn’t lost to Kansas since 2007 and only two Cowboy victories in that span have been closer than a two-touchdown spread. Add another big win to the ledger. 

Worst case: Sure, it’s still Kansas. But these Jayhawks are better positioned to pull an upset — particularly on the home field — than any Jayhawks in recent memory.

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Nov. 12 vs. Iowa State

Best case: This one is set to be the blackout game for fans at Boone Pickens Stadium and the Cowboys are undefeated (1-0) in blackout games. 

Worst case: Even though OSU has won a couple games recently in the series, the Iowa State defense has caused problems for the Pokes. That will keep the Cyclones in this one, and by this point in the season, the offense should have found some rhythm with its new quarterback, Hunter Dekkers.

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Nov. 19 at OU

Best case: In Bedlam, there’s only one good scenario for the Cowboys, who will be looking for back-to-back wins in the series for the first time since 2001-02, and their first win in Norman since 2014.

Worst case: Cowboy fans are all too familiar with that “here we go again” feeling that creeps up in the Bedlam rivalry. This deep into the season, the Sooners should have established what new coach Brent Venables wants from his team, letting the talent take over.

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Nov. 26 vs. West Virginia

Best case: If you’re looking for the hottest seat for a Big 12 coach, it’s under Neal Brown’s butt. Should things go poorly, West Virginia could be in transition mode by Thanksgiving weekend, making this a cakewalk for the Cowboys.

Worst case: One of the biggest unknowns of the Big 12 football season is what kind of impact quarterback J.T. Daniels will have on the Mountaineers. If things go well, he could have them winning some games they’re not expected to win, like this one.

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