'We have options out there': Oklahoma State football seeking opponent for opener after losing Oregon State
STILLWATER — With Oklahoma State’s originally scheduled football season opener seven weeks away, the Cowboys have everything but an opponent.
After meeting with Big 12 leaders on Tuesday, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby is encouraging the Cowboys and any other Big 12 teams who lost games because of the conference-games-only decisions last week by the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences to continue seeking potential replacement opponents in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Because of the decision by the Pac-12, Oregon State had to pull out of the Sept. 3 season opener against Oklahoma State.
“Until we’re told different, we want to play a full season, so we’re going to do what we can to have 12 games,” said Oklahoma State associate athletic director Chad Weiberg, who oversees the Cowboys’ scheduling.
Bowlsby has the same expectations for the other Big 12 teams.
“I think our schools individually will be out talking to people about filling out their schedule for 12 games,” Bowlsby told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday. “If they lost a game, they’ll look around and try to pick one up. If it’s a road game, they may not.”
Like the SEC and ACC, the Big 12 will not make any firm ruling on the football season until later this month, Bowlsby said.
While the Oklahoma State-Oregon State game could still be played sometime this decade — more on that later — the pressing matter for the Cowboys, for now, is finding someone to play the first week of September.
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“We have options out there, because of the other cancellations that have happened,” Weiberg said. “If you lost a game for some reason in a normal year, that would be much more complicated. But the fact that there’s multiple schools that have lost games, it becomes about finding the options that make the most sense in terms of fitting. But they’re out there.
“We feel good about our chances of being able to get that done. I think at this point, it’s more of a timing thing.”
BYU is one of the obvious choices on the board. The Cougars lost five opponents because of the Big Ten and Pac-12 decisions, including the opener against Utah.
“BYU is actively working on a variety of scheduling alternatives,” associate athletic director Duff Tittle told the Salt Lake Tribune this week.
The Cougars don’t have a lot of regional opponents needing games, and might be willing to fill a void with a trip to Stillwater. And it would be a matchup that would draw television eyeballs, particularly if it was slated for that same Thursday night of Sept. 3.
Back to the indefinitely-postponed game against Oregon State. The contract has a clause that addresses exactly this situation: If the game at Oregon State has been played, but the game at Oklahoma State can’t be played because of a natural disaster or other event that makes the game unable to be played, the schools can work together to reschedule the game anytime prior to the end of the 2030 calendar year.
When, exactly, might that happen?
That’s not so easy to answer. The 2026 season is the first in which both teams have a vacancy on the non-conference schedule, but Oregon State already has a game against Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State hosts Oregon that year, so it’s unlikely that the two programs would choose to add another Power 5 school to the schedule.
In 2028, each school has one game scheduled, but Oregon State is set to play at New Mexico and might hesitate to sign on for an extra road game.
With that, the most obvious possibility is 2029, when Oklahoma State has only a home game with Tulsa on the schedule, and Oregon State’s non-conference slate is blank.
“Rescheduling the game would be our preference, but we have not had the chance to have that conversation with Oregon State yet to see how things match up,” Weiberg said. “I think they wanted to come here for this game. I think they’re willing to make it right as soon as we can.”