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OSU Football: ESPN Ranks Oklahoma State as Top 15 Program in Playoff Era

Although the Cowboys were never in serious contention for a national championship, they were still a premier program in the decade.
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The four-team playoff era is over, but Oklahoma State made a significant impact throughout the decade.

OSU never reached the College Football Playoff or achieved a top-four ranking, yet it was one of the sport’s premier programs. Recently, ESPN graded every team ranked in the playoff era, and OSU landed with a B+.

That grade was good enough to put Mike Gundy’s team as the No. 14 team over the past decade. The Cowboys landing in the top 15 is fitting, considering they were ranked in eight of 10 seasons, including six seasons with appearances in the top 15.

OSU’s best rankings in the four-team era were No. 5 in 2021 and No. 6 in 2015. Unsurprisingly, those seasons also saw OSU’s only New Year’s Six appearances.

The Cowboys’ sustained success without reaching the ultimate success has been a hallmark of Gundy’s squads, leading to this gem from ESPN’s David Hale.

“Mike Gundy's program is like Weezer -- nobody's favorite band, but their discography is chock full of bangers,” Hale wrote.

Yes, ESPN called OSU the Weezer of college football. Although a humorous and pretty accurate comparison, it’s one OSU will try to get away from as the 12-team playoff era begins in 2024.

One reason the Cowboys should be optimistic about breaking through in 2024 is their talent. Of course, the Cowboys had many incredible players in the four-team playoff era.

With Biletnikoff winner James Washington, runner-up Tylan Wallace and standouts such as Chuba Hubbard, Mason Rudolph and Malcolm Rodriguez, the Cowboys never lacked talent. Yet, Ollie Gordon II has the skills to lead his team to new heights.

Coming off an All-American campaign in which he won the Doak Walker Award and the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Gordon will lead OSU as it looks to make its first trip to the College Football Playoff next season.

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