Oklahoma State football: Do Cowboys deserve preseason No. 12 ranking?

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After ESPN updated its way-too-early preseason college football poll for 2020, Oklahoma State football find itself ranked at No. 12 in the nation.

Admittedly, it’s “way too early” and more than five months from the first real kickoffs of the 2020 season. But Oklahoma State football fans have to take some kind of pride in ESPN’s most recently updated way-too-early college football poll for the 2020 season that lists the Cowboys as the No. 12 team in the nation.

The Cowboys slid up one spot from the original ESPN poll that was published a day after the national title game in January. Oklahoma State, at No. 12, is the second-highest rated Big 12 team behind Oklahoma, who sits at No. 8 overall.

Oklahoma State’s ranking puts it just behind No. 10 Notre Dame and No. 11 Texas A&M (which defeated the Cowboys 24-21 in last year’s Texas Bowl) and ahead of No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 14 Auburn. The Pokes are also more highly ranked than Big 12 foes like No. 18 Iowa State, No. 23 Texas, and No. 25 Baylor.

Needless to say, this preseason ranking is a significant jump up for the Cowboys after two consecutive underwhelming seasons. Last year’s 8-5 finish was a slight improvement from 2018’s 7-6 disappointment, though the Pokes were ranked in the Top 25 and slid out of the rankings by the end of both seasons.

Since 2009, OSU has been ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 six times. Four of those times, and most recently in 2017, the Pokes were ranked among the top 13 teams. In only one of those four occasions did OSU exceed its preseason ranking — in 2011, when the Cowboys began at No. 9 and finished at No. 3 overall.

Does Oklahoma State deserve such lofty expectations for this upcoming fall?

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