The start of the much-anticipated 2022 college football season kicks off this weekend. Teams across the nation are excited to begin this new campaign, and Oklahoma State is among the country’s most exciting college football teams. Last season, the Cowboys came up just short of the Big 12 title, but still won 12 games and a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Oklahoma State will be looking to build off that strong campaign this season. With rivals Oklahoma and Texas in a state of flux, the Big 12 is wide open for the taking, and the Cowboys are prime candidates to take over.

The Pokes should be a strong team once again in 2022, but what exactly will happen this season? Let’s lay out some bolt predictions for Oklahoma State in this new 2022 college football season.

Oklahoma State Football 2022 Predictions

3. Spencer Sanders finishes top 10 in Heisman voting

Spencer Sanders, who is entering his senior season, has been the definition of consistency in his time with the Cowboys. His completion percentage and passer rating saw slight dips in 2021, but he smashed his previous records in yards and touchdowns to earn First-Team All-Big 12 honors. He saved his best performance for last, tossing a season-high 371 yards and four touchdowns in the Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.

Coming into the new season, Sanders should take another step forward as a senior. He already landed a spot on the preseason All-Big 12 team, beating out Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel. While the Cowboys lost Tay Martin, their leading receiver, Brennan Presley should take over the top spot and Jaden Bray is in line for a breakout season.

The pieces are in place for Sanders to assert himself as one of the nation’s elite passers. If he puts those pieces together, don’t be surprised if he ends the season high up on many Heisman ballots.

2. The Cowboys win the Big 12

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The Cowboys came within literal inches of winning the Big 12 championship last season. Oklahoma State’s Dezmon Jackson reached for the end zone for what would have been a go-ahead touchdown in the final seconds against Baylor. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, he fell just short and the Bears went on to win the conference title.

This season, the Cowboys want to make sure they finish the job. Oklahoma State has a manageable slate in the 2022 college football season, with Baylor and Oklahoma as the only ranked teams on the schedule. This team has the talent to win the conference this season, it’s just a matter of putting it all together.

1. The Cowboys lead the nation in total defense

While the Big 12 is normally an offense-first conference, Oklahoma State was a decisively defense-first college football team in 2021. The Cowboys had the third-best total defense in the country last season, allowing just 273.6 yards per game. Their biggest strength was their pass rush, as they led the country with 55 sacks on the season.

Oklahoma State lost some key faces on the defense this offseason. Leading tackler Malcolm Rodriguez, a Second-Team All-American selection, left to pursue a career in the NFL. Additionally, two starting safeties, Tanner McCalister and Jarrick Bernard-Converse, transferred away from Stillwater this offseason.

However, this defense still has a ton of talent across the board. Sack artist Collin Oliver, who led the team with 11.5 last season, returns to anchor the pass rush once again. Mason Cobb could grow to fill Rodriguez’s role in the middle of the field, and Jabbar Muhammad and Jason Taylor lead what should still be a strong secondary.

The Cowboys brought in former Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason to lead the defense this season. Mason, who spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Auburn, has a tough task to replace so much talent. Still, Oklahoma State’s defense should be one of the best in college football in 2022.