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Breaking Down Week 4 of the AP Poll: One Voter Still Has Oklahoma State Unranked

The voter explains how and why he left OSU off his ballot

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NCAA Football: Boise State at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The Associated Press released their latest Top 25 poll on Sunday and the Cowboys found themselves at No. 15 after a dominating 44-21 victory over previously No. 17 Boise State.

Not surprisingly, with the big win everyone decided to put Oklahoma State in their To..... wait. What’s this? One voter still has the Cowboys’ unranked?!

Week Ranking Lowest Highest
Preseason NR NR 21 (2)
2 NR NR 21 (3)
3 24 NR 18 (1)
4 15 NR 8 (1)

Yep. Michael Lev of the Arizona Daily Star has the Cowboys unranked in his Top 25 poll. Teams he does have ranked?

Cal (18), BYU (19), Colorado (21), and Kentucky (25). To his defense, Michael was kind enough to explain his reasoning for leaving the Cowboys on the outside looking in, and admits he might have made a mistake.

“When the poll dropped Sunday, and I saw that Oklahoma State was ranked 15th, it was definitely an ‘uh-oh’ moment,” said Michael.

“I try to watch as much as I can, comb through box scores, examine schedules and weigh a variety of factors. I also have a starting point – how I ranked the teams the previous week. That’s a guideline, but it isn’t the be-all, end-all. You can’t be stubborn about these things. Was I guilty of that with Oklahoma State? Maybe. I didn’t have the Cowboys ranked as of last week, basically because they hadn’t played anybody.”

“Was their win over Boise State impressive? Certainly. But I didn’t view it as an ‘upset,’ no matter what the spread was, or the popular perception of the two teams heading into it. With the game being in Stillwater, I expected Oklahoma State to win.”

“Regardless, the Cowboys still merited serious attention for my Top 25, and I gave it to them. They literally landed at No. 26. I gave other teams more credit for wins I deemed more impressive – Kentucky winning at Florida, Duke winning back-to-back road games at Northwestern and Baylor. Etc.”

“You probably also noticed that I ranked Cal in my Top 25, as well as BYU. Others did not. But I figured I HAD to rank BYU ahead of Wisconsin if I ranked Wisconsin; after all, the Cougars just beat the Badgers in Madison. Meanwhile, the previous week, the Golden Bears beat the Cougars in Provo. Therefore, Cal had to go ahead of BYU.

“At this early point in the season, head-to-head results are a huge factor. A season-long body of work can mitigate them. But we’re not there yet. That Wisconsin result had a cascade effect. There are only so many spots available. That outcome made it an even tighter squeeze.”

“I heard from many, many Cowboys fans on Sunday. They were understandably upset with me. We had some positive dialogue on Twitter. They made some convincing arguments.

“I will of course give Oklahoma State full and fair consideration next week and beyond, as I do all teams. I’m open to the possibility that I might have misjudged the Cowboys.”

Finally, Michael makes a fair point, calling the entire ranking process, “extremely subjective.”

“Who’s to say one 3-0 team is better than another,” questioned Michael. “I view this entire process as ongoing and organic. The rankings change each week. The ultimate goal is to get it ‘right’ at the end.”

Excluding the NR vote from Lev, the Cowboys’ other votes range from 8th to 22nd. Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald is responsible for the No. 8 vote, the Cowboys’ highest of the week. He explains why he has OSU now in his Top-10.

“I had Oklahoma State in my top 25 after the first week,” said Marc. “The Cowboys have moved up as others ahead of them have stumbled this season. In retrospect, I may have them a tad too high given they’ve played only at home so far, but they handled a Boise State team I had ranked higher rather easily. Holding Boise State to 21 points showed it’s not all about the offense.”

The biggest moves this week came from Rece Davis and Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, who both took the Cowboys from unranked to No. 11 in their polls. Another big move was from Matt Brown of The Athletic, who moved OSU from unranked to No. 12 in his latest poll.

“Oklahoma State made the biggest leap onto my ballot. Other voters were correctly ahead of me in voting for the Cowboys last week, and Oklahoma State validated those votes with an impressive 44-21 win over Boise State.”

Every voter has their own way of doing things. And while fan bases may not always agree, the most important factor to remember is that the AP poll doesn’t matter for anything other than providing us something to talk about on Sundays.

That said, if Oklahoma State gets past an improved Texas Tech offense on Saturday, I fully expect to see them on every Top 25 voter’s ballot come Sunday.