Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph said last week that the Cowboys have won a lot of games in his career, but they have, "yet to get over the hump" and win a Big 12 championship and earn a College Football Playoff spot.
That "hump" is comprised of many smaller humps, one of which is early-season road trips that have stung Oklahoma State in recent years.
The Cowboys have lost their first or second true road game in four of the last five seasons. The last time they went consecutive seasons without losing one of their first two road games was 2011-12, when they won a combined 23 games, the most over a two-year period in program history.
|First Road Loss
|West Virginia, 30-21
Following their Week 1 home win over Tulsa, Oklahoma State embarks on a two-game road trip — rare for a Power Five team. They visit South Alabama this weekend and Pittsburgh in Week 3. Head coach Mike Gundy is well aware of their history of road struggles — and both the Jaguars' and Panthers' history of beating good non-conference foes at home — but he's optimistic.
"I think we're a better team now," Gundy told reporters on Monday. "…When you go play down there, the field is still 52 yards wide. I think our organization and our program is more mature now than it was in years past."
The Cowboys rebounded from the early road losses in 2013 and 2016 to win 10 games, but they won just eight games in 2012 and seven in 2014, their two lowest win totals of the last decade.
"We're still vulnerable at all times, and it's never as comforting to play on the road as it is to play at home," Gundy added. "Our players understand that and we've had those discussions. We're holding them responsible for preparation and playing like we're playing at home."
Oklahoma State is 26-7 at Boone Pickens Stadium since 2012, compared with 15-10 in true road games. The four years in which they lost an early road game, they have a 10-10 overall road record.
Another early road loss would leave their margin for error at zero as they chase a playoff spot. And another season with multiple road losses would mean one final misfire for the Gundy-Rudolph era.