I’ve been struggling to find much to write about on Oklahoma State recently, and I think I’ve come to a partial conclusion on why. The Oklahoma State wrestling schedule this season … just isn’t very good.
As things stand in the first week of January, the Cowboys have wrestled one home dual, a 45-0 smashing of Drexel in Stillwater on Nov. 28. The next time we’ll see the Cowboys in Stillwater is Jan. 23 when Lehigh comes to town.
After Lehigh, they have solid matchups with Iowa State and Northern Iowa (on back-to-back days), followed by South Dakota State. They then go on a bit of a road trip for a few weeks before coming back and closing out their dual season on Feb. 18 and 20 with matches against Bucknell and Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State’s biggest rival, Iowa, would typically be wrestled in Stillwater this year but will be held in Arlington, Texas at the “Bout at the Ballpark” on Feb. 12.
That’s it. That’s their entire home dual schedule.
There are some intriguing matchups for the Iowa State dual. The Cowboys only beat the Cyclones by one point last year, but that was coming off a same-day dual with Northern Iowa, and with Daton Fix and Dustin Plott both out of the lineup. OSU should win that one fairly comfortably. Oklahoma is always a good draw due to the Bedlam rivalry aspect, but the dual in Norman wasn’t competitive and this one won’t be either.
It’s hard to get even the most avid Oklahoma State wrestling fans excited about a home schedule like that.
I’ve written a lot about Oklahoma State wrestling attendance, and for the most part, it’s been improving lately minus the COVID season of 2020-21 where crowds were limited. But it’s still behind the rabid fanbases of Iowa, Penn State and even Ohio State in recent years.
Part of it is those fanbases simply show up a little better than Oklahoma State’s. Another, and possibly a bigger part of it, is they have schedules that are more exciting. Iowa wrestles Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State and Wisconsin at home. Penn State wrestles Rutgers, Ohio State and Nebraska, among others. That’s four top 20 teams for Iowa and a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup at home. That’s three top 12 matchups for Penn State after already wrestling Lehigh at home this year who is also in the top 25.
Based on Intermat’s dual rankings, Oklahoma State will only see three teams in the top 25 this year. Iowa State (14), Oklahoma (20) and Lehigh (22). That’s just not a good home schedule. And it pales in comparison to these other top schools.
Some of that is Oklahoma State’s home-and-home schedule with a lot of their top rivals. Minnesota and Missouri, who OSU wrestles annually fell as away duals this year and both are solid teams this season. Another part is the conference. The Big Ten is just better than the Big 12, so there will be better matchups on the conference schedule every year.
The final piece is the “Bout at the Ballpark.” This may end up as a pretty great event, but it takes away a big home dual for the Cowboys this year.
But there has to be something they can do to boost their schedule a bit right? NC State is a great team. They pushed Iowa to the limit a few weeks ago and are a Top 5 team this year. Cornell is very good and has been on the Oklahoma State schedule previously. Virginia Tech, Arizona State and others maybe could have been added?
But when the Iowa dual was moved to Arlington, Oklahoma State lost their only marquee home matchup this season and left fans with a home schedule that’s tough to get excited about.