By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – In years past, the Bedlam match up closed out the regular season – probably for good causes for the team on the losing end.
But this season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys don’t get the chance to lick their wounds for long. After Saturday’s heartbreaking loss in Norman the Cowboys must now focus on one last Big 12 Conference opponent in Baylor, a squad that is on a roll with back-to-back upset victories to become the conference’s ninth team to earn bowl eligibility.
“That’s the good thing about college football. You get the chance to get right back at it whether you feel like it or not,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday. “... This is a good football team we’re playing. It’s a team that’s played considerably different over the last three or four weeks.”
But this is Bedlam, and a gut-check at the end sometimes leaves longer impressions than a blowout. So it’s up to Gundy and his coaching staff to make sure one loss doesn’t turn into two.
“I don’t think there’s any question it’s a challenge for us as coaches and players that we recover. It starts with us,” Gundy said. “We have to get over it first, and then we have to make sure our players understand, which they do. This is a mature group and they’ve been in enough games. If we don’t practice well (Tuesday) it takes about thirty percent of our chance away from winning on Saturday.
“There just really isn’t any option. I felt good about the team when they left the building late (Sunday) night and I think they’ll come back and have energy and practice well.”
While this Bedlam loss has to be a hard one for Gundy and his players, the OSU coach said it registers with him like every other loss.
“I never get over them. I’m going to wake up three years from now talking about or thinking about this game – just like I do with the Holiday Bowl and Cotton Bowl; just like the Texas game from this year,” Gundy said. “So that never really goes away.
“For me personally, after the Kansas State game I was really disappointed because we played so poorly. This game, I was so disappointed because the players couldn’t enjoy that winning feeling in the locker room, but not disappointed with what happened during the game.”
Responding from adversity has become something this Cowboy crew has hung its hat on. OSU responded from its three losses this season with victories and has won its last six games coming off a loss. The last time an OSU team lost back-to-back games came in 2009 – a 21-7 loss to Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl after losing in Norman at the end of the regular season, 27-0.
“It’s just something that we have to put behind us,” senior offensive lineman Lane Taylor said. “This year we’ve done a great job of bouncing back after Arizona, Texas and Kansas State. This team has already dealt with this situation, and we’ll be able to put it in the past.”
Unlike the last time OSU lost to OU in Norman, the Cowboys won’t get to have a month to stew about it – and that, around the holiday, they are grateful for.
“You don’t want to have a bye week and let all this set in. I’m very appreciative to play a game this upcoming week,” senior linebacker Alex Elkins said.