It won't hit newsstands until later this month but Phil Steele has released his latest College Football Preview and while he likes the Cowboys, he likes the Sooners just a little better. The good thing is as accurate as Steele is, he does miss some.
I would say that my 2017 College Football Preseason Magazine collection is not complete but it became much closer today with the overnight delivery of Phil Steele's 2017 College Football Preview, an autograph copy at that as Steele thanked me for helping him with the Oklahoma State pages. I wish I could have made a stronger suggestion as to who he picked to win the Big 12, who he selected for the College Football Playoff, and where he has Oklahoma State going bowling.
Just to be fair here is where all of the preseason magazines in my possession have the Cowboys picked for this upcoming season.
Athlon's was out first in the race to be on the magazine racks the earliest. They have Oklahoma State ranked 14th and third in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma and Texas. I have to admit that one shocked me because I find it hard to rank the Cowboys squad with a veteran quarterback in Rudolph, top freshman rusher in the Big 12, and the best receiving corps in the country behind Texas. Tom Herman must be the next Vince Lombardi.
Street and Smith, which format and pages look very much like the old Sporting News right down to the writers employed, had Oklahoma State 11th in the top 25 and second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma.
Lindy's ranked the Cowboys 5th in the nation and picked Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 and finish just outside the four-team field for the College Football Playoff.
All of the three magazines above had James Washington as a first-team All-American at wide receiver and had Mason Rudolph as the second best quarterback in the Big 12 behind Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.
Okay, now for Phil Steele. The most accurate college football magazine for the past 19-years has Oklahoma State as the 15th ranked team in the preseason, although Steele claims he is trying to project the way the Associated Press will rank the teams in their preseason poll. His actual power poll has Oklahoma State 17th, but in all cases he has Oklahoma State ranked second in the Big 12.
"Two of my nine sets of power ratings (not my main one) call for 11 wins. With Rudolph and Washington turning down the NFL and five Big 12 home games including Oklahoma , they are a legitimate Big 12 and National Championship contender," wrote Steele in his analysis of the Cowboys.
Steele has the Cowboys receivers unit ranked first in the nation and he has James Washington as a 1st-team All-American. In the Big 12 he has Washington, running back Justice Hill, and offensive tackle Zach Crabtree on the 1st-team All-Big 12; Mason Rudolph, receiver Jalen McCleskey, middle linebacker Chad Whitener, safety Tre' Flowers, and punter Zach Sinor on the 2nd-team. His 3rd-team includes offensive guard Marcus Keyes and safety Ramon Richards. The 4th-team has defensive end Jarrell Owens and kicker Matt Ammedola.
In talking to Steele earlier this week on my radio show the premier college football expert was very complimentary of Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy as it had just been announced he had signed his new five-year annual rollover contract.
"What a job he has done with the Oklahoma State program, three double-digit win seasons over the past four years, flirting a bunch with national honors," Steele said. "This year it is pretty intriguing as far as the prospects for Oklahoma State goes."
I had to ask him about the changes with Tom Herman now at Texas and just recently Bob Stoops retiring at OU and Lincoln Riley taking over.
"Normally, since the magazine doesn't hit the newsstand until June 27th, I've been hesitant to talk about predictions but now people can go to our website and download the entire magazine so I don't mind throwing out my predictions. I'll tell you this, yes I did pick Oklahoma to win the Big 12 and I'm not changing that opinion," Steele said. "Even with Bob Stoops stepping out of the picture I like the fact that he was there during the spring and got the team set up and I think they are in capable hands with Lincoln Riley. He's a guy that Gil Brandt (former Dallas Cowboys executive) called me three years ago and said, 'hey, this is an up and coming guy in Lincoln Riley.' Bob Stoops is a loss but I think they can overcome that.
"I did pick Oklahoma State second in the Big 12 and Bedlam is interesting," Steele continued. "They moved it first of all to the start of November because I think the Big 12 is thinking those two teams are going to be playing in that new Big 12 Championship Game, which is one against two. Oklahoma State has the offense with Rudolph and Washington and Justice Hill makes it nice triplets. The key is going to be defense and losing two starters off the defensive line and if Oklahoma State's defensive line holds up and with the schedule with all those Big 12 games at home I think they deserve to be one of the favorites for the Big 12 this year."
Steele went on to add that he sees a rough stretch in the Oklahoma State schedule that a lot of us have pointed to as well. On Oct. 21 the Cowboys go to Texas, follow that up the next week at West Virginia, then host Oklahoma, and a week later go to Iowa State. Any of those four could be tough, and the two around Bedlam could qualify as trap games and both are on the road at very tough places to play, Morgantown, W.V. and Ames, Iowa.
Steele projects the Cowboys in the Alamo Bowl again against his preseason 14th ranked team (both power poll and preseason rankings) in Stanford.