Nonconference preview: Oklahoma State

Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.

Next up: Oklahoma State.

Mississippi State at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Aug. 31

  • Coach: Dan Mullen (29-22), fifth year

  • 2012 record: 8-5, 4-4 SEC

  • Returning starters: seven offensive, six defensive

  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Tyler Russell had a big breakout season with 2,897 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He loses his top four receivers from 2012, though.

  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Benardrick McKinney made 102 tackles as a freshman last season, including 4.5 tackles for loss.

  • The skinny: The Cowboys are the undercard of a Big 12-SEC doubleheader on neutral fields in Week 1, playing an afternoon game before TCU and LSU kick off in primetime. OSU is a more experienced team and a two-touchdown favorite. It should win, but this is obviously a team capable of beating OSU if it plays average or worse.

at Texas-San Antonio, Sept. 7

  • Coach: Larry Coker (12-10), third year

  • 2012 record: 8-4, 3-3 WAC

  • Returning starters: 10 offense, nine defense

  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Eric Soza rolled up 18 touchdowns and three interceptions as a junior in 2012. He completed less than 60 percent of his passes and threw for 2,085 yards.

  • Defensive headliner: Sophomore defensive back Nic Johnston is the team's leading returning tackler with 67 tackles in 2012. He had five tackles for loss, a sack and an interception. He also forced four fumbles and blocked a kick.

  • The skinny: The Roadrunners have only existed since 2011 and handled the transition to FBS a year ago pretty well, going 8-4. All four losses were by at least 20 points to bowl teams, though. UTSA returns as many starters as any team in the country, but if OSU doesn't turn the ball over and plays well, it should coast easily, even on the road.

Lamar, Sept. 14

  • Coach: Ray Woodard (13-21), fourth year

  • 2012 record: 4-8, 1-6 Southland

  • Offensive headliner: Receiver Barry Ford had twice as many receptions as any other Cardinal, hauling in 49 catches for 470 yards and a touchdown. One interesting note: Receiver Kevin Johnson transferred from Oklahoma State and returned a pair of kicks for touchdowns last season. He caught 10 touchdown passes and had 19 receptions for 309 yards.

  • Defensive headliner: Jermaine Longino made 107 tackles and six tackles for loss last season. He also forced three fumbles.

  • The skinny: The Cardinals got shut out twice last season, and scored just two points in a loss to Hawaii. The offensive firepower's simply not there to make this one close.

Chances of going 3-0: 61 percent

Wrapping up: Oklahoma State should coast through its final two games, and is a sizable favorite against the Bulldogs in the season opener. Still, that's going to be a huge game and really the only opportunity Oklahoma State has to lose in nonconference play. That should be one of the most entertaining games of the nonconference season, but the rest of OSU's slate outside of Big 12 play could be pretty ugly.