The Associated Press Preseason College Football Poll came out August 18th, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys continued their recent streak of being a ranked team.
The Cowboys will come into the season ranked at No. 19 by the AP, which is pretty high considering the fact that this year could be considered a rebuilding year for the program. Still, Mike Gundy’s program is becoming more and more respected as the wins continue to pile up. This AP ranking is just further proof of that.
Breaking down the Cowboys’ starting poll position will consist of looking at the Big 12 teams ahead of them, the ones behind them and the teams that surround them nationally in the poll. All of those factors give a pretty clear picture of what the national perception of the Cowboys is.
The Big 12 teams ahead of Oklahoma State in this poll are: Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas.
The Oklahoma Sooners come in at No. 4, and that position makes sense for them. The Sooners will be a tough opponent for the Cowboys this season, as the rivals play in Norman this year. They also returned their top-tier quarterback Landry Jones along with other key pieces on both sides of the ball.
The West Virginia Mountaineers are ranked No. 11 coming into the season. Former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen has had no problem teaching this team his offense, making that clear in an offensive blowout in the Orange Bowl in January. Returning all of the principal parts from last year’s Top 10 team, the Mountaineers will be led by quarterback Geno Smith, an NFL prospect.
The Texas Longhorns are the only team on this slide that does not belong ahead of the Cowboys. Texas always has athletes, but it is ludicrous to rank them at No. 15 after they have gone 13-12 over the past two seasons. Last time I checked, the quarterback prospects for the Longhorns are the same bad ones they were last season. If they have not gotten better, the Longhorns will struggle in the quarterback-driven league that is the Big 12.
The Big 12 teams behind the Cowboys in this poll are: TCU and Kansas State.
The AP ranks the TCU Horned Frogs one spot behind the Cowboys at No. 20. Whether or not that is a good position for them is really tough to say. Personally, I am cautiously optimistic about TCU’s chances of doing well in the Big 12. They are a bit of a wild card at this point, but they are returning a good quarterback and a few other pieces from last season.
The Kansas State Wildcats are always ranked too low coming into the season, and 2012 is no exception. Last season, Bill Snyder worked his magic again, maneuvering his team to a 10-3 record. A ranking of No. 22 overall is not right, especially considering that the team is returning everyone from last season. His team will be one of the Big 12’s best again this season, but what that will translate to is tough to determine.
The teams surrounding the Cowboys at No. 19 are: TCU, Ohio State, Stanford and Nebraska.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers come in at No. 17. This year will tell us much about Bo Pellini’s team and just how ready they are to be a contender in the Big Ten. Fellow Big Ten team Ohio State immediately follows them at No. 18. That ranking just proves how a big name school and Urban Meyer as the new head coach can get you a decent ranking.
TCU is a team we have already discussed, and Stanford follows them at No. 22. The Cardinal have some questions coming into the season, namely who will replace Andrew Luck at quarterback.
This position in the rankings tells us one big thing about the Cowboys: people nationally are unsure of them and have questions. The same is true for all the teams around them. Many wonder if Taylor Martinez will ever grow up and lead Nebraska to national prominence. More wonder how Meyer will fare at Ohio State under NCAA sanctions. The questions about TCU’s ability to compete in the Big 12 and Stanford’s ability to move on after Andrew Luck have been well documented.
The questions about the Cowboys are obvious. Can they continue to be a national player? Will Wes Lunt be able to weather the storms of the Big 12 as a true freshman quarterback? Can the defense take the next step? These are all valid questions, and are the reasons why the Cowboys received this ranking from the AP.
The answers to those questions will be shown to us beginning on September 1st.