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Florida State preseason football preview: Oklahoma State

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tomahawk Nation is setting up preview pages for each of Florida State's football opponents. This is the page for Oklahoma State. Florida State plays the Cowboys on August 30 in Dallas, and it is one of FSU's most important games of the year.

Oklahoma State is a fine football program. They recruit decently, scout very well, and develop their players. Mike Gundy is one of the best coaches in the country, and he almost took them to the National Title Game in 2011 (Alabama went, and won, despite not winning its conference).

But this team with this timing early in the year, does not seem likely to have a shot against FSU. As of this July 9, FSU is favored by 19 points over the Cowboys.

So why do we doubt the Cowboys in 2014?

OSU returns an experienced quarterback, its leading rusher, three 200-yard receivers, six offensive linemen with starting experience, most of a strong defensive line, and, perhaps as importantly, both coordinators. They still have T. Boone money. They were one of the best teams in the country after November 1 last year.

But even those who aren't predicting Oklahoma to run away with the conference are mentioning contenders like Baylor and Kansas State. The team with 41 wins in four years is a total sleeper.

Mind you, it makes some sense. The quarterback who was in charge during the late breakthrough (Clint Chelf) is gone. So are three of the top four receivers from a balanced corps. And three starting offensive linemen. And two stalwarts at linebacker. Oh, and the top five defensive backs, guys who had been longtime contributors.

Oklahoma State lost more lettermen than any D1 team in the nation.

But, Bill Connelly cautions us not to doubt the Cowboys quite so much, particularly once they hit their stride (which they probably will not on August 30).

Here is Paul Myerberg of USA Today. Please do click and read the whole thing.

You can doubt this specific team while respecting the program. This program has earned the benefit of the doubt, and that in spades; this team has to earn its respect. There are certain flaws here that simply cannot be ignored: Oklahoma State is really insecure along the offensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary, and the Cowboys can't feel overly comfortable with the current situation at wide receiver and on special teams. On paper, in my opinion, this is the least cohesive group Gundy has brought into a season since the beginning of this program's current run. What does this mean?

It means this team could win nine or more games, since that's what Oklahoma State does. It could also mean this team stands as Gundy's worst since 2007, the program's last squad to win less than eight games in a season. Yes, this team – again, this is on paper – could win just six or seven games during the regular season. There's the schedule: FSU to start, a 24-point loss, and TCU, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma on the road. It's not easy; it'll take everything Gundy has and more to keep this train rolling.

He'll need superb play at quarterback, expectations-matching play from Hill, next-step production from the young core of receivers, above-average play from left tackle to right guard, reliable production along the interior of the defensive line, leadership from Simmons, explosiveness at outside linebacker, all-conference play from Peterson, opportunism at cornerback, consistency along the back end and growth from the kicking game. That's all, right? The good news: OSU has been here before, done this dance before and come out clean on the other side, atop the Big 12 or within a game of the league title. The bad news: OSU has a heck of a road ahead to challenge in this conference.

Dream season: Oklahoma State loses to FSU but rolls off 10 wins in 11 games to end the year, capping it all with a 48-10 win against the Sooners.

Nightmare season: The Cowboys finish 5-7.