Oklahoma State wins the early-entry battle
The biggest risk in doing any look-ahead top-25 columns in the hours after the conclusion of the BCS title game is not knowing for certain which underclassmen are jumping to the NFL draft. Now, with the early-entry deadline behind us, we know which schools have been hit the hardest -- and which ones got off easy. Here are this year's winners and losers of the early entry period:
With the Cowboys losing offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to the West Virginia Mountaineers, it didn't seem like a stretch that they'd lose strong-armed 27-year-old quarterback Brandon Weeden and Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Justin Blackmon, too, but Mike Gundy had to be high-fiving everyone in sight when he found out both were coming back for another year. The chance to work with both of these players certainly will make Gundy's sales pitch easier as he courts potential offensive coordinator candidates.
If the two had left, it's doubtful the Cowboys would have been a preseason top-20 team. With them, they figure to be somewhere in the top 10.
Whether or not it is a direct result of coach Jim Tressel's pledge demands is unclear, but the Buckeyes will be bringing back many key pieces on offense in 2011. QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan "Boom" Herron, WR DeVier Posey and OT Mike Adams are coming back, even though they all face five-game suspensions to start the season.