STILLWATER — Oklahoma State football fans who want to see the Cowboys play in person early in the 2013 season may need to book a trip to Texas.
OSU's football schedule, released by the Big 12 Tuesday afternoon, reveals a slate that features just one September game at Boone Pickens Stadium: Sept. 14 against Lamar, a Football Championship Subdivision school.
Instead, the Cowboys' early season will include plenty of time in the Lone Star State. OSU opens on Aug. 31 with a marquee nonconference game against Mississippi State at Reliant Stadium in Houston in the Texas Kickoff Classic. The next week, the Cowboys play Texas-San Antonio at the Alamodome.
Here are five other highlights of the OSU schedule:
Cowboy coach Mike Gundy has been adamant about his desire to play the easiest nonconference schedule possible. That won't happen in 2013, with the Cowboys beginning the season on a neutral field against a Mississippi State squad that Dan Mullen has built into a program that was ranked for much of the 2012 season. But the marquee matchup on college football's opening weekend will give the Cowboys plenty of television eyeballs and exposure, both nationally and in an area OSU recruits heavily.
OSU plays four games in the state of Texas next season. Following the back-to-back nonconference games in Houston and San Antonio, the Cowboys will travel to Texas Tech on Nov. 2 and Texas on Nov. 16. OSU plays TCU at home for the second consecutive season.
The Cowboys will open their Big 12 schedule at West Virginia, their first time playing in Morgantown since 1928. Several of the former OSU assistants — led by Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen and defensive coordinator Joe DeForest — should still be around to welcome the Cowboys to their new turf. Things didn't go so well for WVU in Stillwater this season, with the Cowboys handing the Mountaineers a 55-34 loss at BPS.
The 2013 season features three bye weeks, on Sept. 21, Oct. 12 and Nov. 30. The open date before Bedlam is particularly intriguing. In 2011, OSU used the extra week to construct a brilliant game plan that relied on heavy blitzing and gashing the Sooners with the run game en route to a 44-10 victory.
Bedlam returns to Stillwater in 2013 — but not until Dec. 7. That's the latest regular-season game in school history, which will cut into the coaching staff's winter recruiting period. But it's unavoidable in a scheduling landscape that is largely driven by television contracts.
Oklahoma State 2013 schedule
Aug. 31 Mississippi State (Reliant Stadium, Houston)
Sept. 7 at Texas-San Antonio
Sept. 14 Lamar
Sept. 21 Bye
Sept. 28 at West Virginia
Oct. 5 Kansas State
Oct. 12 Bye
Oct. 19 TCU
Oct. 26 at Iowa State
Nov. 2 at Texas Tech
Nov. 9 Kansas
Nov. 16 at Texas
Nov. 23 Baylor
Nov. 30 Bye
Dec. 7 Oklahoma