Mike Gundy is still convinced that Oklahoma State could have beaten LSU in 2011. But since the Cowboys lost in Ames, Iowa, on a Friday night in November that season, we never had the opportunity to find out if Gundy’s belief is correct.
OSU was one of the best teams in the country eight years ago. But the Cowboys lost to the Cyclones 37-31 in overtime after a field goal to take the lead with less than 80 seconds to go in regulation sailed wide.
The loss knocked Oklahoma State from the ranks of the unbeaten and, ultimately, from the national title conversation. Despite losing to LSU in the regular season, Alabama was ahead of Oklahoma State in the BCS standings with the same record and got (and won) a rematch with the Tigers for the national title.
If it was Oklahoma State instead of Alabama in the BCS title game, Gundy is convinced LSU would still have lost.
"We would have played LSU and won," Gundy said. "They were an overload-the-box, man-to-man team on defense, and you could not play our team in man that year. We were too good. That still bothers me, that we didn't get a shot. And if the system was set up like it is now, we would have been in the playoff. I guess those things don't drive me as much. I love for our kids to have success, don't get me wrong. But I don't dwell on it like I used to."
As Gundy notes, Oklahoma State would have made a four-team playoff if it existed in 2011. At No. 3 in the BCS standings, OSU would have needed to play Alabama to get a shot at LSU, presuming that the Tigers would have gotten past No. 4 Stanford, the team that OSU beat in the Fiesta Bowl.
That would have been a spicy playoff. Alas, the playoff didn’t exist. And if Oklahoma State’s loss to Iowa State didn’t exist either, we wouldn’t be wondering about the what-ifs in the first place.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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