You won't find many college football teams this year as experienced as the Oklahoma State Cowboys. OSU brings back upwards of 18 starters from a team that went 8-5 last season.
The Cowboys last won the Big 12 in 2011, so another conference championship would make 2020 a season for the books in Stillwater. But why shouldn't the Pokes set their sights even higher?
OSU is generating some understandable preseason buzz as a sleeper for the College Football Playoff. Here are three reasons to believe the Cowboys will live up to their promise — along with three reasons to believe they will fall short.
Three Reasons Why Oklahoma State Will Make it to the College Football Playoff in 2020
Mike Gundy's most memorable teams at Oklahoma State have revolved around three-headed monsters at the skill positions on offense. Take the Mason Rudolph-Justice Hill-James Washington trio, for example. This year, the Cowboys are rolling with the daunting conglomerate of quarterback Spencer Sanders, receiver Tylan Wallace, and running back Chuba Hubbard. Few teams around the country have a threesome that can match up.
2. Underrated defense
OSU isn't known for defense, but the Cowboys played solid football in the second half of 2019. Twelve of the top 13 tacklers return this season. They include veterans like linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez and safety Kolby Harvell-Peel, as well as up-and-coming talents like sophomore edge rusher Trace Ford. Combining a quality D with a typically explosive Pokes offense should put OSU in position to compete with — or beat — every team on the schedule this year.
3. Going all-in
Gundy has enjoyed success in the past with his stars sticking around for their senior seasons. In '20, he gets another run with Hubbard and Wallace. A playoff bid would make for a fitting end to the college careers of OSU's studs.
Three Reasons Why Oklahoma State Won't Make it to the College Football Playoff in 2020
1. Too much drama
Gundy made waves on multiple occasions in the offseason with bizarre political statements, creating friction with Hubbard. The rift brought enough other issues to light to lead the athletic department to take disciplinary action against the coach, who was deemed to be disconnected from his players. On its face, that sounds like a case of a coach "losing the locker room." That wouldn't bode well for the season.
2. Too many turnovers
Sanders has sky-high potential behind center, but he can also give games away with his penchant for turnovers. In '19, he threw 11 interceptions in 11 games and frequently played loose with the ball in the pocket. That kind of carelessness may keep the Cowboys from capitalizing on their potential.
3. Not enough depth
Frankly, Oklahoma State doesn't recruit like most of the perennial contenders for college football's final four. The Cowboys have enough frontline talent to make a run at a Big 12 crown and spot in the playoff. The problems come once injuries start to pile up. OSU has to hope for good fortune on that front.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.