Mike Gundy and his Oklahoma State squad entered this weekend's slate with the No. 3 overall BCS ranking, and a BCS composite average of .8712. The second-place team, Alabama, had a composite average of .9551, placing the Tide .0839 ahead—that's a lot of ground to make up.
This is especially tough when Alabama was guaranteed not to lose, as they sat out and watched championship weekend in Week 14 of the NCAA football season.
Oklahoma State did their part. They dismantled the No. 10 BCS team, Oklahoma. That ought to give Oklahoma State a bit of a boost in the computers, but it isn't likely to help the Cowboys as much as they need to close the gap between them and Alabama before the polls come out this evening.
Alabama's computer ranking average places them at an overall computer rating of .950, while Oklahoma State's average is .930—not a big disparity.
In the seven computer polls, 'Bama has the No. 2 rating in five and a No. 3 in the two others while Oklahoma State rates No. 2 in two of the computer polls and No. 3 in the other five.
Oklahoma State's problem is the human polls.
Assuming the Cowboys even up the ground they're is losing in the computer polls, will they be able to close the huge human poll gap they face?
How much will the human voters penalize Alabama for not playing?
Oklahoma State's huge problem is their No. 5 ranking in both the Harris and the USA Today Coaches' poll.
In those polls, the Cowboys sit behind Stanford and Virginia Tech, who hold the No. 3 and No. 4 spot in both polls. In the Coaches' poll the Cardinal are ranked No. 4 and the Hokies are ranked No. 3, and it is reversed in the Harris poll.
The good news for Oklahoma State is that Virginia Tech lost and looked bad doing it against Clemson last night.
This ought to give the Cowboys a boost in the eyes of the voters to get Oklahoma State up into at least the No. 3 to No. 4 range in the human polls.
However, Stanford didn't play, so do the voters drop the Cardinal's ranking?
The voters will need to penalize both Alabama and Stanford for not playing this weekend in order to vault Oklahoma State to the No. 2 spot in both human polls.
Whether Oklahoma State should have had the No. 5 ranking behind Tech and Stanford in the human polls is up for debate, but the fact is that they will need to pass both of them and Alabama to get that No. 2 spot.
That is unlikely to happen, which would keep the Cowboys out of the National Championship Game.