The Big 12’s lone unbeaten squad took the field on Saturday and defeated a ranked Iowa State team 24-21, although the game really didn’t feel that close. If you’re living under a rock, I am of course referring to 4-0 Oklahoma State, who has continued to reside in the top 10 of the AP polls, where they sit at #6 after week 8. The Cowboys did not rise this week, but most importantly, they did not drop as well. This was a personal fear of mine, as the Big 10 resumed play for the first time in 2020 and Penn State had a chance to jump OSU because they were unranked on several ballots the week prior as some voters did not include teams without a game. That was all for naught however thanks to the Indiana Hoosiers for late game heroics to win a very controversial 36-35 OT game.
Here at Heartland College Sports, we will take you in depth of the AP rankings and let you, the casual fan, see why the ranking is the way it is and possibly call out some strange things we see from the AP registered voters. With that being said, let’s check out who gets free cheese fries at Eskimo Joes the next time they’re in Stillwater and who will be overpaying for parking near Boone Pickens Stadium on gameday.
Last week my focus was on the ballot of Don Williams, a writer for the Lubbock-Avalanche Journal, who ranked Oklahoma State behind Iowa State along with 3 others with a loss. This week Mr. Williams has shown once again his disdain for Oklahoma State, ranking them behind Indiana, a team he had unranked the week prior. So, a dominating win against a ranked Iowa State team is somehow worse than a miracle come from behind win against Penn State, Don? To jump Indiana from unranked to #11, ahead of a 4-0 team from the Big 12 just shows that OK State could finish the season undefeated and still not be good enough for a top five spot for Don Williams. Don Williams did not explain his ballot last week, I truly hope he at least divulges his thinking of why OSU is not deserving of a top 10 spot in his polls and his bias against the Big 12 despite the fact he works in a Big 12 town.
This week’s deep dive in the AP Top 25 rankings will also put the spotlight on Nate Mink, a writer from Syracuse, NY. This might not be Nate’s fault, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but once again the SEC bias reigns supreme across college football as Mink ranks Texas A&M at 6 and Florida at 7 while he put the OSU Cowboys at #12. Nate has Miami, also with a loss, ahead of the Pokes rounding out his top ten with the last spot. So, just to recap, Nate Mink from Syracuse has four teams with a loss ahead of Oklahoma State along with undefeated Cincinnati, who is a single spot ahead of the Cowboys.
I could at least understand ranking Cincy ahead of OSU; the Bearcats took SMU out to the woodshed late Saturday night and showed they belong among the top 15. I still think the Pokes have shown more (Cincy has played two teams with a combined record of 1-8) but after a good showing I can understand why Nate liked what he saw from the Bearcats. Perhaps Nate just needs a refresher of some of the other teams ahead of OSU. Miami struggled mightily on Saturday, barely beating a 1-4 Virginia Cavaliers team. Miami’s best win was a season opening win over UAB; I’m not even kidding when I say that figuring as how the Canes have beaten 4 of the 6 bottom teams in the ACC standings.
I understand that you can only play the team on the field in front of you, but if you’re going to use the argument that a certain conference is not great, evaluate other teams the same way. Oklahoma State proved they belong on Saturday; beating a team many consider the second best in the Big 12 while only allowing 21 points (with a touchdown being scored in final seconds.) I understand Nate covers the ACC, so he might show more bias towards Miami, but I’m simply asking for him to take a step back and fully evaluate not only if a team wins, but also who they beat. Oklahoma State will face off against Texas on Halloween with a chance to set up a top-15 matchup with K-State the following week should both teams win. Miami will only have one more chance to beat a top-15 squad this year when they end the season at home with currently ranked #15 UNC.
Oklahoma State could possibly be the final chance for the Big 12 to have a playoff team in 2020; and many believe the only path is with an undefeated record. It feels like a running trend where I have to repeat myself, but the most important factor when ranking teams should be winning games. Florida, Texas A&M, and Miami all sit above the Pokes on many AP ballots, despite having a loss. Oklahoma State has one thing on their mind each week, and that’s going 1-0. As I said last week the Cowboys are not only facing their opponents on the field, they’re also fighting the perception of the Big 12 as a whole off the field. Let’s hope we can open a discussion with Don Williams or Nate Mink and see what the Cowboys can do to improve their standing and crack into the top 10. Mink and Williams are the two lone voters with the Cowboys outside of the top 10.
*Please do not send any ill-will to any AP voters, this is meant to be a fun article highlighting some discrepancies amongst the AP Top 25 voters.
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