By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER — Heading into Saturday’s game against Iowa State, it’s easy to remember back a year ago when it was the Cyclones that served Oklahoma State its only loss in the program’s best season on record.
Playing a Friday night contest on ESPN in Ames, Iowa, the Cyclones held on as OSU nearly won it in regulation with a Quinn Sharp field goal, but went on to beat the previously unbeaten Cowboys in double overtime. The circumstances weren’t normal that contest, however, as the OSU family had suffered a tragedy earlier that day with the death of OSU women’s basketball coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna.
“We could talk and had meetings and told the team that we decided to play the game and needed to move forward,” OSU coach Mike Gundy recalled this week. “But it’s not like you walk out of that banquet room in the hotel and feel better about it – nobody did.
“The tragedy I remember more than I do the game because that’s going to last forever. That score is forever, but our team ended up on a very good note at the end of the season. The tragedy and what we went through and all the families went through is something we’ll never forget.”
While the tragedy still lingers for many, so too does the upset against a team that heading in didn’t look to be an opponent that could stop the Cowboys. And because of that, there was a stinging feeling that followed the loss to the Cyclones – especially as the Iowa State fans stormed the field as OSU tried to escape to the locker room.
“The feeling after Iowa State was a terrible feeling,” receiver Charlie Moore said. “The whole weekend was just kind of jacked up, but after that loss it just leaves a sour taste that you don’t have in your mouth. It’s not about a payback game this weekend. We’re not looking at it like that. But that memory is something we can use to our advantage.”
Though Gundy expects some players will recall last year’s loss, he also said that players can’t solely focus on getting revenge.
“I don’t think that it goes unnoticed. I think most of that is overrated. I can’t imagine that some players might not reflect back on that,” Gundy said. “They have to go out and play a sound football game. They have to be in the right spot and adjust based on whatever position they are in, offense or defense. If you get caught up in that then you won’t play very well.”
The coaches understand though, that with young adults, getting some revenge will probably play somewhat of a motivating factor prior to the game.
“Revenge and all that, that lasts for a couple minutes and then all the sudden you’re in the game concentrating on the next play, and all that stuff goes out the window,” defensive coordinator Bill Young said. “No question we need to study our film from a year ago and we need to study what they’re doing this year. The coaches are going to get a game plan together.”
For some of the players, watching the film of last year’s loss this week will be the first time since then.
“Once that game was over, everybody had such bad feelings that we stopped watching it and cut it off and went to the next game,” defensive end Nigel Nicholas said. “It’s going to be tough going back to it again, but we’ll try to make it different this year.”
It may have been tough to watch the film, but it wasn’t difficult to remember the last year’s lone loss when getting prepared for this season.
“We worked all summer, all spring and every time we’d say ‘Remember what Iowa State did to us and how it felt after the Iowa State game? We don’t want to feel that again,’” Nicholas said.
Regardless if players and coaches expect revenge to be a driving force for the team this week, Nicholas is certain about one thing – there won’t be need for pep talks.
“They don’t have to say anything to us to get us pumped up for this game because we all know what happened last year,” Nicholas said.