STILLWATER — Oklahoma State football is stuck in a rut. Ruts happen.
Ohio State's in a rut; win the Big Ten, lose the national championship game. Oklahoma's in a rut; win the Big 12, lose the Fiesta Bowl. West Virginia's in a rut; three straight 11-win seasons, all with a January bowl victory.
Oklahoma State is in a 7-6 rut. Two straight years of 6-6 regular seasons, followed by a bowl victory. That's good and bad. Good that the Cowboys got on the right side of .500; bad that the Cowboys keep flirting with mediocrity.
All of which means that in 2008, 6-6, plus a bowl capper, won't cut it. Build a temple in which to play and it's not only ticket prices that rise. Standards do too.
To establish momentum and build interest and give hope, the '08 Cowboys must improve. Seven pre-bowl wins would be acceptable; eight would be nice. Six would make State fans wonder if they're glued and doomed to middling.
Especially with the 2008 schedule. OSU has five virtually automatic wins. Also has three near-certain defeats. That leaves four games that should determine the season.
The wins: Houston, Missouri State, Troy, Baylor and Iowa State, all at Stillwater. The Cowboys lost road games at Houston and Troy the past two years, but at Boone Pickens Stadium, OSU should roll.
The losses: at Missouri, at Texas, at Texas Tech. All are ranked in the AP top 12. The Cowboys won in both Austin and Lubbock in 1944, and have not won in either place since. And Mizzou has maybe its best team ever.
The unknowns: at Washington State, Texas A&M, at Colorado, OU.