No. 11 Oklahoma State faces South Alabama in Sun Belt land

South Alabama knows it can beat a ranked or major conference team because the Jaguars have done both.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys are most definitely aware that weird things can happen even as heavy favorites over a lesser-known nonconference opponent.

The 11th-ranked Cowboys (1-0) visit the Sun Belt Conference’s Jaguars (0-1) on Friday night in Mobile, Alabama, as four-touchdown favorites determined not to take anything for granted.

After all, Oklahoma State fell 30-27 at home to 21-point underdog Central Michigan last season on an untimed touchdown play that officials later said shouldn’t have been awarded. That took coach Mike Gundy’s team out of the College Football Playoff conversation late in the season.

Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph said it doesn’t matter who or where they’re playing if you’ve got leaders “who have been through all types of game situations where you’re expected to win, you’re the favorite.”

“You know how to kind of approach each and every game each and every environment you’re going to play in whether it’s a hundred thousand in Austin or 30 or 40 (thousand) down in Mobile,” Rudoph said. “It’s definitely a plus.”

It’s not altogether unfamiliar territory for the Jaguars, who haven’t fielded a team for even a full decade.

South Alabama opened last season with a win over Mississippi State and then upset No. 19 San Diego State at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. They opened with a 47-27 loss at Mississippi.

“There’s no doubt that those two games last year were a huge step for our program,” South Alabama coach Joey Jones said. “This is the start of our fifth year in Division I football, and we only started nine years ago. We didn’t have football before that.

“Any time you can throw up wins like that, it creates a confidence level that you can play with those guys if you do all the things the right way.”