STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy got about as far away from campaigning to get his team into the national championship game as a college coach can get.
Instead of arguing for the third-ranked Cowboys to get a shot at the BCS title, Gundy said Monday that he considers Southeastern Conference powerhouses Louisiana State University and Alabama to be the best two teams in the nation right now.
Gundy sees No. 1 LSU – one of two undefeated teams, along with No. 7 Houston– as clearly the best team at this point. And he agrees with the polls that have Alabama at No. 2.
That might be subject to change if Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) can beat No. 13 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2) on Saturday night.
“I’m just saying right now,” Gundy said. “You asked me about today and we have a loss and they have a loss, and they lost to the No. 1 team in the country.”
The Cowboys are third in the BCS standings and The Associated Press poll but fifth in the coaches’ poll and the Harris Poll, two rankings that are part of the BCS formula. The BCS computer rankings have Oklahoma State third, so the most ground to be made up is in the minds of human pollsters.
“Alabama lost to what would be the No. 1 team in the country and Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State, so in our situation, if I was doing it fair, I don’t know how I could put us in front of them right now,” Gundy said.
The argument for the Cowboys comes by examining which team has the best wins instead of looking at the losses. Oklahoma State has four wins against teams in the Top 25 of the BCS standings, and would have a fifth by beating the Sooners, while Alabama has only two.
“I know our strength of schedule is pretty good. We’ve played some Top 25 teams, three or four of them on the road, and our resume looks good,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “But we’ve got to win Saturday. The rest will take care of itself.”
Oklahoma State could also campaign on the platform that the Crimson Tide already lost at home to LSU and didn’t win their division.
Gundy didn’t make a case for his team except to say, “I think on any given day, on any site in the country, that we can play with anybody in the country. I don’t doubt that for one second.”
Gundy said he prefers to focus his energy on beating Oklahoma for the first time since 2002 than on politicking for a chance to play in New Orleans in January.
“We can talk about this forever but we need to try to win every football game we can and then at some point the computers or other people will vote how they feel that your team has played and where they should be,” Gundy said. “Then I think as a team, we have to live with that and then move forward.”
“Until we play the game, I don’t really think anything I say makes a dang bit of difference,” Gundy added.
It doesn’t help the Cowboys that their most recent performance was a loss on national television to an unranked Iowa State team that had never before beaten a team ranked higher than seventh. They were off last week, allowing the loss to linger in the minds of poll voters.
The chance to finally wash it away comes Saturday night.
“If we play a good game, I think we can give ourself the best opportunity. But other than that, it’s out of our hands,” defensive end Jamie Blatnick said. “We can give ourself the best opportunity to get votes. ... The fact is it’s out of our hands.”