published Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Nicholas, Cowboys focus on Sooners

If the public wants a rallying point for change within the Bowl Championship Series, it will have to look somewhere other than Stillwater, Okla.

Try as people might to paint the BCS as unfair, the Oklahoma State Cowboys just aren't biting. While LSU is clearly the nation's top college team heading into the SEC championship game today against Georgia, a glut of one-loss teams are lined up behind the Tigers.

The latest BCS rankings have Oklahoma State (11-1) as the top outsider for the national title game, ranked behind Alabama as well as LSU probably even with a decided win today against rival Oklahoma.

Should a Cowboys team that lost in two overtimes at Iowa State be snubbed in favor of an Alabama team that already had its shot at LSU and lost at home? The Cowboys would love the shot, but they aren't fixated on it.

"Sure, we feel we have a good argument, but that's not something we can worry about right now," former Ridgeland High School star and current OSU junior starting defensive end Nigel Nicholas said Friday. "Right now our main goal is to beat Oklahoma. We haven't beaten them since I've been here, and that's something we want to change."

It's a sentiment shared by OSU coach Mike Gundy who, unlike LSU's Les Miles in 2008, refuses to lobby for his team publicly. In fact, Gundy said this week in a teleconference with the national media that if he had a vote it would go to the SEC powers.

"Right now, I'd vote for LSU. I don't even think that is a debate," he said. "You asked about Alabama. If somebody sat me down and said you had to make a decision with where we are at right now, Alabama lost to what would be the No. 1 team in the country and Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State. If I was doing it fair, I don't know how I could put us in front of them right now.

"Other circumstances may factor in, but that's just my personal opinion. I like our football team. On any given day on any site in the country, we can play with anyone in the country. I don't doubt that for one second."

The tune in Stillwater may change today if the Cowboys manage to end an eight-year skid against an Oklahoma program that holds a 81-17-7 series edge. Nicholas for one thinks a decisive win might sway a few votes in the coaches' poll, where OSU currently sits fifth.

"We can make our statement on the field Saturday and maybe improve our chances with the computers," said the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Nicholas, who has nine tackles for loss among his 32 stops. "Coach Gundy keeps us focused on the present and we can't worry about the future. The Bedlam game is a great, intense rivalry, and that's all we can focus on right now."

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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