Josh Pate: Oklahoma State Among Three Teams Who Could Surprise in 2024

Oct 14, 2023; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma State's Ollie Gordon II (0) runs the ball in the second quarter for a touchdown against the Kansas Jayhawks at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan J. Fish-USA TODAY Sports

The four-team College Football Playoff era is officially a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean the Cinderella storylines have to come to an end.

In 2022-23, we saw Max Duggan and the TCU Horned Frogs make an unlikely charge into the playoff, where they shocked Michigan in a 51-45 Fiesta Bowl classic to advance to the national championship game.

Washington had a similar run in 2023-24, as the second-ranked Huskies toppled No. 3 Texas 37-31 before losing to Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines in the CFP title game.


With the 12-team playoff format set to begin in 2024, the chance for parity is still present—and perhaps even more so—but are there any teams that are truly capable of making a Cinderella run in this year’s playoff?

According to Josh Pate, the host of the Late Kick Podcast, there are a few teams that could do it. In his latest episode, Pate talked about the teams that he believes can make runs similar to TCU and Washington in the past couple of years. Much of it comes down to the ability to win one-score ball games.

In 2022, TCU was 6-1 in one-possession ball games, while Washington was an incredible 8-0 in such games in 2023.


The first team Pate mentions is Oklahoma State, who is coming off a 10-4 season and an appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game in 2023. The Cowboys were 5-1 in one-score games a season ago and return the vast majority of their production in 2024.

“Oklahoma State is sitting there with the No. 2 returning production roster in college football,” Pate said. “They very well may have the best offensive line, certainly the most experienced offensive line coming back. Mike Gundy is always prone to pop a surprise season on you.”

Pate continued with this thought to Virginia Tech out of the ACC.


“Virginia Tech is not being talked about over in the ACC,” Pate said. “But they start with a very favorable run. They’ve got a lot of runway there. They also have the No. 4 most returning production in college football. If they start rattling off close wins, they go to Miami 9/27, they go to Miami. What if they win that 23-20?”

Finally, Pate said that South Florida is his final team that could string together some close wins and end up playing spoiler in the CFP.

“What if it’s USF? What about the Bulls down there in Tampa,” Pate asked. “What if they start rattling off those one-win games? They go to Bama in Week 2—I’m not going to write that one off because they forced Alabama into the ugliest game in the history of Crimson Tide football last year before they ultimately lost, I think 17-3. They got some big boys on the schedule—Bama and Miami—but you know what? It could serve them very well.”

Can Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State Cowboys make a Cinderella run to the College Football Playoff in 2024? Let us know what you think in the forums!

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