Oklahoma State Cowboys Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
The Oklahoma State program has had a string of very good quarterbacks under Mike Gundy - Zac Robinson, Brandon Weeden. Not only would I take Mason Rudolph over any of them without hesitation, though, but I would have taken him over any quarterback in the country last year who didn't play for Oklahoma. He was a special player, but now he is with the Steelers and the team has to move on. And unlike in the past, the path forward isn't immediately clear here. It's a season of change this year in Stillwater, and that comes after an offseason where Gundy flirted with leaving more than he has in the past. There is still plenty of talent and upside in town, but the possibility for things to go badly is higher than it has been for a while.
2017 in a Nutshell
The team ran through a very easy nonconference schedule with little issues but hit a wall as soon as things got real. They hosted TCU in the first conference game, and they looked outmatched as they lost by 13. They then won four straight, capped by a nice win at a ranked West Virginia squad. But they encountered issues again, losing a crazy shootout in the Bedlam showdown with Oklahoma. They rebounded by winning at a ranked Iowa State but then fell in a head-scratcher to Kansas State at home. Their problematic defense really let them down there. They capped the season beating Kansas - which should barely count as a real win given how awful that program is. The 9-3 record earned them a date with Virginia Tech in the Camping World Bowl, and they came out on top in a game that was far less interesting than it should have been given the matchup.
Key Additions and Departures
Not only does the team have to replace a quarterback who put up crazy numbers and set records, but the replacement situation is a little scary. The leaders at this point are Taylor Cornelius, a senior former walk-on who threw just 10 passes last year, and transfer Dru Brown, who was pretty underwhelming starting for two years at Hawaii - and who will face stunning culture shock going from the islands to Oklahoma. And whoever wins that job will have to work without Rudolph's top two receivers last year as well, including the incredible James Washington. Road bumps on offense early are almost assured. Fortunately, outstanding running back Justice Hill is back and probably ready for a massive year. They have to replace both tackles on the line, but that isn't as bad as it sounds and they have some decent options.
On defense the biggest change is that Gundy finally gave up on his loyalty to coordinator Glenn Spencer, who failed to produce a decent defense in Stillwater at any point. Jim Knowles, the longtime DC at Duke, has come in to try to improve the program. He runs a quirky 4-2-5 system that wouldn't be my first choice, but Spencer was going nowhere and any change is a good one. Knowles has plenty to work with - he has lots of solid experience up front, two linebackers with good starting experience, young starters at corner who both started every game last year, and decent depth at safety even though both starters are gone. The expectation would certainly be that this team is improved this year on this side of the ball.
Biggest Area of Concern
It has to be the quarterback. Rudolph left behind massive shoes to fill, and it is no certainty that they are going to be able to fill them. The defense could be a little better than it was, but in the Big 12 it is always the offense that is going to define success, and this offense may be a step or three short of where it needs to be.
Oklahoma State Cowboys Schedule Analysis
The team opens with Missouri State and South Alabama. Who says college teams don't have exhibition seasons? But then they host Boise State, which is going to give a very good indication of where this team is at. Like every team in the Big 12, they play every other conference opponent. That stretch of games is back-loaded - the final five games include Texas, at Oklahoma, West Virginia, and at TCU. That's a challenging way to end off a season. If things are shaky by that time of the year then the season could easily go off the rails.
2018-19 Oklahoma State Cowboys Betting Odds and Trends
Oklahoma State is tied with West Virginia as the fourth choice to win the Big 12 at +800 at Bovada . They are understandably a long shot to win the national title at +22500. The season win total is set at eight, with the "over" slightly favored.
2018-19 Oklahoma State Cowboys Predictions and College Football Picks
I don't love where the team is at. The defense is going to face some growing pains in a scheme change. The offense is changing too much key personnel. And the conference is strong. I expect them to lose to Boise State and at least three of their last five. They will make a bowl but not a good one. I don't see much value in the win total, and certainly wouldn't bet any futures.
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