OSU is climbing up the Big 12 food chain

Berry Tramel: The Cowboys now have the No. 3 program in the league, behind only OU and Texas.
by Berry Tramel Published: October 11, 2011

Big 12 football is losing many of its second-tier bulwarks. Nebraska gone, Texas A&M going, Missouri thinking long and hard.

That's bad news for Conference Chaos. But is it bad news for the Oklahoma State Cowboys?

The sixth-ranked Cowboys play at Texas on Saturday, and after OSU beats Bevo's brains out, the Cowboys will have a better Big 12 record than the Longhorns. Over the last five seasons.

Read that again. Starting with the 2007 season, a period in which the 'Horns played for a national title and thought they should have played for another, OSU and Texas have the same conference record, 23-11. State has a better Big 12 record than Missouri, Nebraska, Texas Tech or Texas A&M.

The Cowboys have climbed the Big 12 food chain, and while no one could argue that OSU has caught Texas in status or reputation or championship pedigree, no one could argue that the Cowboys haven't become the league's third-best football program.

And with OSU's chief competitors fleeing like someone opened a sardine can, the Cowboys stand as the league's only legit threat to the Oklahoma/Texas axis. Not just in 2011, but in the coming years of what will be a new-look league.

“We're getting better,” State coach Mike Gundy admitted. “We're getting good players. Started getting a little national publicity. People see us differently than they used to.”

Many things have masked OSU's rise. Lack of a BCS bowl bid. Gundy's rant. The new uniform combinations. The Sooners' mighty shadow. Even Boone Pickens' palatial stadium. Lots of stuff has veered OSU football talk away from OSU football success.

But amid all that background noise, the Cowboys have been recruiting ballplayers and winning games.

“The talent level now is better across the board, in terms of depth,” admitted offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who left OSU after the formative Les Miles seasons (2001-04) and returned only this year.

The Cowboys have star power in 2011. Brandon Weeden. Justin Blackmon. Joe Randle. Markelle Martin. Brodrick Brown.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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BIG 12 STANDINGS

Cumulative Big 12 standings over the last five seasons:

Oklahoma 26-8

Oklahoma State 23-11

Texas 23-11

Missouri 22-12

Nebraska 19-13

Texas Tech 20-14

Texas A&M 16-18

Kansas State 14-20

Kansas 13-21

Colorado 10-22

Baylor 8-26

Iowa State 8-26

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