Schedule Analysis: Oklahoma State

We are a month away from the beginning of fall camps, and two months from the start of the season. With the 2014 season arriving in the not-too-distant future, it’s time for us to break down every Big 12 team’s complete schedule.

Starting in reverse alphabetical order, we continue this series off with the Oklahoma State Cowboys:

Nonconference opponents (with 2013 record)

Aug. 30: Florida State in Arlington, Texas (14-0)

Sept. 6: Missouri State (5-7 in FCS)

Sept. 13: UTSA (7-5)

Big 12 home games

Sept. 25: Texas Tech

Oct. 4: Iowa State

Oct. 25: West Virginia

Nov. 15: Texas

Big 12 road games

Oct. 11: at Kansas

Oct. 18: at TCU

Nov. 1: at Kansas State

Nov. 22: at Baylor

Dec. 6: at Oklahoma

Gut-check time: Pistol Pete better bring his big-boy lunch pail to AT&T Stadium. But when OSU opens with Florida State this year’s youthful version of the Cowboys is more likely to bring a superhero kids’ version. If OSU shocks the nation and upsets the defending national champions it wouldn’t be the first time Mike Gundy’s program has surprised during a “rebound” year. But make no mistake, Jameis Winston and the Seminoles provide the sternest test of the season for OSU, particularly as a season opener with the entire nation watching.

Trap game: When OSU hosts West Virginia in late October the Cowboys could be looking past the Mountaineers toward a four-game stretch that includes Kansas State, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma to end the season. OSU has been tough to beat at Boone Pickens Stadium in recent years, going 28-6 since 2009, so its easy to slot this in as a win, particularly with the Pokes looking to avenge their 2013 loss to WVU. But the Mountaineers, with several staff members having OSU ties, could prove to be a Cowboys’ nightmare right before Halloween.

Snoozer: It’s hard to imagine OSU’s home opener against Missouri State becoming anything more than another destruction of a FCS foe. There should be plenty of points as OSU tries to get its offense off to a strong start despite uncertainty at several positions. The talented Cowboys should be able to recover from any mental mistakes against MSU with sheer physical talent.

Telltale stretch: The Cowboys have a difficult final stretch of the season, but OSU’s three-game start to October could actually define its season more than a final four run of KSU, UT, BU and OU. If OSU struggles at home against Iowa State, then on the road against Kansas and TCU, it might not matter how it fares in November and early December. The Cowboys should be seasoned enough to have success once October starts, and it will be critical for OSU to find a way to go 3-0 during that stretch if it hopes to have a successful 2014 campaign.

Final analysis: The Pokes have one of the most difficult schedules in the conference. Things jump off with a bang against the Seminoles then end MMA-style with the Cowboys facing punch after punch against the Big 12's best down the home stretch. Gundy’s squad will need to grow up quickly and, most importantly, refuse to let their confidence waver when they run into struggles this fall, or a bowl-less campaign could be in play.