The Times' Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football top 25, one day (and team) at a time:
No. 7 Oklahoma State
Billionaire T. Boone Pickens recently inspected Oklahoma State's football stadium overhaul funded with some of the $265 million he has contributed to the Cowboys' athletics program.
"Have we got the best?" Pickens reportedly asked.
"Yes" was the answer.
The premise here being, "If I build it, you will win."
Hey, it worked for Phil Knight at Oregon.
Oklahoma State is financed to win -- now -- and the Cowboys promise to be dynamic. You could argue no team in the country returns a better quarterback-running back-receiver combination than Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter and Dez Bryant.
Oklahoma State finished No. 6 nationally in offense last year, averaging 40.8 points and 487.7 yards a game.
"I don't think anyone can shut us down," Pickens told the Sporting News in July.
Coach Mike Gundy, who two years ago became YouTube famous with his "I'm a man, I'm 40," rant after a Cowboys game, is now a man of 42.
And if you don't think he's taking this season seriously, Gundy last week basically put Oklahoma State under martial law by banning all but friendly-to-the-program media from practices and access to players.
Oklahoma State isn't messing around, not with Georgia coming to Stillwater on Sept. 5 -- an intersectional game that could make or break the national title hopes for both schools.
This might seem a lot of hullabaloo for the third-best team (probably) in the South Division of the Big 12 Conference -- Texas and Oklahoma are both ranked ahead of Oklahoma State in all the major preseason polls.
No wonder Gundy is in lockdown mode.
To get to where Pickens has paid for the school to go, Oklahoma State has to get past Georgia and then the meat of the Big 12 batting order: Oklahoma State lost to Texas and Oklahoma last year.
Texas, in fact, leads Oklahoma State in the all-time series, 21-2, with 11 straight wins starting in 1998.
Oklahoma is up, 79-17-7, with six straight victories.
Oklahoma State is also talking big with a defense that finished No. 93 last year and was scorched for 42 points and 469 yards in a Holiday Bowl defeat to Oregon.
A take-away moment was Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli barreling over Oklahoma State safety Quinton Moore on his way to a 41-yard touchdown. Luckily, Moore rolled over and wrote down the license plate number.
Gundy has enlisted a veteran and highly respected defense coordinator in Bill Young to shore up the side of the ball that's really going to decide this season.
Young played at Oklahoma State and recently left a promising situation at Miami to plug holes for his alma mater.
"Bill has done it for a long time," Gundy said at Big 12 media day. "He's got experience in this league. I think he's got a great demeanor."
He may need it. Texas and Oklahoma aren't leaving the Big 12, and Pickens isn't getting any younger or any more patient.
It's time to turn blank check into gut check.
The countdown so far: 25. UCLA; 24. Nevada; 23. Notre Dame; 22. Oregon State; 21. Florida State; 20. Nebraska; 19. North Carolina; 18. Utah; 17. Georgia Tech; 16. California; 15. Virginia Tech; 14. Alabama; 13. Georgia; 12. Boise State; 11. Texas Christian; 10. Mississippi; 9. Louisiana State; 8. Ohio State; 7. Oklahoma State.