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OSU Football: Winning the Big 12 in 2024 Might Be Unrealistic

The Cowboys have a long road to making the conference title game next season.
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Oklahoma State has high hopes for next season, but it might be wise to temper expectations.

The Cowboys’ expectations to be at the top of the Big 12 standings in 2024 are already being challenged by Vegas. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Cowboys are in the middle of the pack in the Big 12.

OSU is tied with TCU at +1600 for the eighth-best odds to win the conference. Utah, OSU’s first conference opponent, is the favorite at +340.

OSU’s schedule is not necessarily a reason to be concerned about the team next season. Of the eight teams with the same or better odds to win the conference, OSU plays only four, with two matchups at home.

However, there could be concerns about OSU’s talent level going into next season. Sure, the team is coming off a 10-win season with a trip to the conference title game. Yet, it often felt like the team got lucky and played above their abilities last season.

Ollie Gordon II led the Cowboys’ offensive attack and finished as the nation’s leading rusher, taking home various honors for his impressive play. But no one will be caught off-guard by Gordon’s abilities next season.

It was seen to an extent toward the end of 2023, but OSU’s opponents will game plan around stopping the Doak Walker Award winner. With teams doing everything possible to stop Gordon, Alan Bowman will be under abundant pressure to make things happen.

Of course, defenses will not make OSU one-dimensional regardless of how intent they are on stopping Gordon. Still, Gordon could see a similar dropoff to Chuba Hubbard’s following his 2019 campaign.

After leading the country in rushing yards with 2,094 as a sophomore, Hubbard ran for only 625 yards in seven games in 2020. Dropping to only 4.7 yards per carry, Hubbard was effective but not to the extent he could carry the Cowboys’ offense.

2023 will continue to be considered a successful and resilient season, but another season with two conference losses might not be enough to advance to the title game. Simply put, OSU’s flaws from last season will persist, and near perfection is not something to expect from this group.

The Cowboys trailed by double digits in four of their nine regular season conference games last season, including the final three. They also trailed in the fourth quarter in six of those games.

OSU is returning almost its entire offense and projects to have another solid defensive year. But its conference championship hopes might not be entirely determined by what happens on the field.

With Oklahoma and Texas going to the SEC and the addition of four Pac-12 teams, the Big 12 will be home to 16 teams next season. Remember the tiebreaker chaos at the end of last season?

That isn’t getting better in 2024.

Although it is a near impossibility, it’s possible for OSU to go 12-0 next season and miss the conference championship game. Still, an undefeated regular season would almost certainly clinch a trip to the College Football Playoff.

The Cowboys might be in the mix for a Big 12 title next season, but don’t be surprised if they are out of serious contention by mid-November.

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