Oklahoma State football: Why Cowboys belong in College Football Playoff

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse

Oklahoma State football enters the final two weeks of the regular season with the No. 9 ranking in the College Football Playoff Committee’s most recent poll. The Cowboys (9-1, 6-1) have their best record since 2015 and have realistic aspirations to win their first Big 12 Conference title since 2011.

Mike Gundy and the Cowboys have put together an impressive ten-game stretch of performances so far in 2021, but it’s all for naught in terms of advancing to the CFP if OSU can’t win its final two regular-season games.

Oklahoma State football has several compelling arguments to be ranked higher for the CFP, including its lockdown defense and strength of schedule.

Even given the numerous hypotheticals and potential scenarios that could still play out, OSU isn’t getting much attention nationally as a CFP team. It’s arguable that if the postseason began today, the Cowboys are underrated at No. 9 by the committee because they lack the brand-name of a team like Notre Dame or Ohio State, they win games in an “ugly” fashion (by holding opponents to 300 yards under their season averages), and they haven’t played OU yet.

Even though teams like Michigan and Michigan State are currently ranked ahead of the Cowboys, the Big Ten picture will get sorted out in the next two weeks as the conference’s top teams all play each other (including Penn State).

Here are five reasons why Oklahoma State is worthy of the 2021 College Football Playoff:

5. Cowboys have the country’s sixth-best strength of record.

The ESPN “strength of record” indicator measures whether the average Top 25 team would have the same record as the team in question, if given that team’s actual schedule. OSU ranks sixth in the country in this measurement.

Two of the teams that rank ahead of OSU in this category are Michigan and Alabama, who will each face tough games within the next month against Ohio State and Georgia, respectively. Losses by the Wolverines and the Crimson Tide would help clear up the CFP picture, although a Michigan win against Ohio State may have a ripple effect of weakening Oregon’s chances (as its best win) if the Ducks finish as a one-loss Pac-12 champion.

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse