The 2013 season is one I divide by the calendar. Spetember is huge in that Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy has to take his team into a less than desired opener with Mississippi State.
Can Oklahoma State beat the Bulldogs? Absolutely, but can they do it and still navigate the rest of the first month of the season? To me that is critical, just like losing to Houston the week after beating Georgia was critical in 2009. Pardon that the Mississippi State game is actually Aug. 31 because for our purposes it is the first month of the season.
The Cowboys will face a Mississippi State team that returns a lot of offensive experience including starting quarterbakc Tyler Russell. On defense, especially in the back end where they lost two high NFL Draft picks, including Jim Thorpe Award winner Jonathan Banks, the Bulldogs are rebuilding or at least reloading. It will be tough on Aug. 31 in Houston, but if the Cowboys win they set themselves up for a strong start.
You can't fall asleep on Texas-San Antonio this second week of the season in the Alamodome. UTSA won eight games last season. OSU is much, much better, but UTSA is using this game as the launching pad of its program. They will be pumped and you have to put Larry Coker's team down early. The next week at home is Lamar and that should be an opportunity to play a lot of guys.
After an open week the Cowboys open Big 12 play at West Virginia. Normally, I would say this game is a major concern but this is a season you probably would prefer to play West Virginia on the road, and play them early as that team is in a major rebuilding mode following the departure to the NFL of standouts like Geno Smith, Tavon Auston, Stedman Bailey, and others. The defense is still trying to find its way. Thus, it's good time to go to Morgantown.
The Cowboys should begin 4-0, and five of the final eight games will be at Boone Pickens Stadium. It's not easy as you have back-to-back games with purple in October with Kansas State and TCU coming to town. The bonus is an off week after facing K-State on Oct. 5 before hosting potential conference co-favorite TCU on Oct. 19. October finishes with a trip to Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State.
Now, if the Cowobys are 7-0 at this point, there are five games remaining, and the stretch drive of the season has you at home for three of the five. The road games are rugged with a trip to Texas Tech on Nov. 2 and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury has the Red Raiders fans on the plains fired up. His team loves him and he will be a success. You have to hope that Tech is still trying to put it together and that the Cowboys recent enjoyment of playing in Lubbock still exists.
After a home game with Kansas, it's down to Austin to play Texas on the same weekend as the huge Texas Formula One race in the streets of the Texas capitol. Longtime Austin American-Statesman sports columnist Kirk Bohls will have to decide which is faster, Formula One racing or Mike Yurcich's offense.
Back-to-back home games for the finish against a Baylor program that I really believe has turned the corner and is not going away under Art Briles and the good ole Sooners.