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Going Deep on the Best Long Plays of the Mike Gundy Era



With 12 seasons in the books, Mike Gundy is the longest-tenured head coach in Oklahoma State history. His mentor Pat Jones and posthumously-anointed National Champ Jim Lookabough each lasted 11 years in Stillwater. He’s now also the longest continuously-tenured head coach in the Big 12.

So with that in mind, let’s look back at some of the best long plays of the Mike Gundy era.

These aren’t necessarily the 10 longest plays during Gundy’s time at the helm but they did have to be among the longest in their category (i.e. returns, rushes, receptions) in school history to qualify. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites. I don’t want to rank them. I just want to enjoy them. And I hope you do too.

Dez Bryant’s 78-yard punt return againts Texas A&M (2008)

I could have picked Dez’s 82-yard return against Houston earlier that same year but this one won out for me because of who it was against. This win was the first against the Aggies in five tries and the Cowboys had only won two of the last 12 meetings — since the Big 12 was formed. OSU rattled off four straight wins in the series starting with this game.

Plus, it’s an amazing play. Dez ducks under, out and away from tacklers reminiscent of the old cartoons where Bugs Bunny pops out of the dog pile and taps his would-be antagonist on the shoulder — and then disappears.

Rudolph to Washington for 82 yards against Kansas State (2016)

Of the 10 longest passing plays in Oklahoma State history, this dynamic duo has produced three. Rudolph threw five of those passes and the other two during Mike Gundy’s tenure were No. 1 – Zac Robinson to Jeremy Broadway in 2008 and Daxx Garman to Brandon Shepherd against Missouri State in 2014. That’s right Weeden-to-Blackmon have been pushed off that board by QB1. Don’t worry, I still found a spot for them below.

The reason this particular play is one of my favorites is what it meant. Oklahoma State was behind on the road in the fourth quarter at a place that’s been hard for the Cowboys to win. This score brought them within two and set them up for the comeback win.

It was Mike Gundy’s second win in Manhattan as a head coach. And just the second win by OSU there in nearly 30 years. The last three OSU quarterbacks to win at Bill Snyder Family Stadium were Mike Gundy (1986 and 1988), Brandon Weeden (2010), Mason Rudolph (2016).

Jamie Blatnick’s 59-yard Bedlam fumble return (2011)

This one is the shortest play on our list in terms of yardage — although it lands in the No. 6 slot of longest fumble returns in Cowboy history. Oklahoma State was up 10-0 at the end of the second quarter but the Sooners were in the red zone and on a crucial third down. Talk about a momentum play.

Alex Elkins surged unscathed at Landry Jones and proceeded to ruin his evening. Jamie Blatnick turned on what jets he had and nearly scored. The play set up a Joseph Randle 1-yard touchdown. Things kept rolling and Oklahoma State took it to the Sooners 44-10 ending an eight-game losing streak and helping secure its first Big 12 title.

Tyreek Hill’s Punt Return at Oklahoma (2014)

You remember that cold, damp, windy night in Norman? It was especially cold and windy near the top of the 103 section on the west side of the stadium. But it provided a perfect view of the play that essentially set Oklahoma State’s program on a new trajectory. Think about the feelings surrounding the program (both inside and out) before this game and where they are now.

At the least, it helped secure a Bedlam win and guaranteed bowl eligibility along with the additional practice/bowl experience that would help springboard the 2015 team to a 10-0 start.

At the most, it may have long-reaching ramifications on the careers of Mike Gundy and Mason Rudolph. Imagine burning Rudolph’s redshirt just so he could look good but go 0-2 and the Cowboys finished 5-7? Not a good look.

Mike Hamilton’s 83-yard touchdown run against Texas Tech (2005)

This play made the list for a couple of reasons. The first? Nostalgia. There are no names on those jerseys!

This is a clip of firsts. It was Mike Gundy’s first season as head coach. This play helped secured Mike Gundy’s first Big 12 win — there have been 62 since. This was Mike Hamilton’s first touchdown.

Later this season, Hamilton would break the record for most rushing yards by a freshman at Oklahoma State with 961, a record that Justice Hill just broke last fall. This 83-yard run is still the 10th longest in OSU history.

Rudolph to Washington – Pittsburgh at Oklahoma State (2016)

Coming off of that tough loss that never should have been to Central Michigan, Oklahoma State fans filed in with bated breath but still faithfully striped Boone Pickens Stadium. Then cautious sighs quickly turned into ecstatic cheers.

Mason Rudolph made a statement with this quick strike to Washington on the very first offensive play for the Cowboys. At 91 yards, it is the second-longest passing play of all-time at OSU.

Josh Stewart’s Punt Return on TCU (2013)

What a fun memory. This is still the best thing about the traffic cone, all-orange look with orange brand. Josh Stewart was a dude, and I still wish he would have stayed around for his senior season. Not that it would have necessarily made a huge difference for the Cowboys in 2014. It was just fun to watch him play.

And how much fun was it to have two dynamic return men like Josh Stewart and Justin Gilbert on the same team? Stewart is still one of my favorites Cowboys.

Tyreek Hill’s Kickoff Return – Iowa State at Oklahoma State (2014)


Tyreek’s speed lands him again on this list. At 97 yards, this ties for fourth-longest kickoff return and this isn’t Hill’s longest. He went for 99 on Jayhawk kickoff that year as well.

The Bedlam punt return was much more significant but this just reminds me what it was like having a return man waiting that could take it all the way — at any given time. Hopefully, the Cowboys will have that again this year.

Justin Gilbert’s Kickoff Return – KU at Oklahoma State (2013)

Justin Gilbert also fits in the mold of one of those guys that you didn’t want to take your eyes off of for fear of missing a play like this. That’s one of the reasons I picked him as my top pick of former Gundy players that I would add to the 2017 team. Shore up the cornerback rotation and add a dynamic returner in one move.

Five OSU kickoff returns have spanned the length of the field. Gilbert returned two of them and the other three were by Mike Gundy’s Heisman-winning teammate.

Justin Gilbert’s Kickoff Return at Texas (2011)

Just a bonus Gilbert play because I wanted to. Because you want to watch them — over and over.

This was back when whooping up on the Longhorns was a relatively new feeling, which made this play/game all the more gratifying.

Weeden-to-Blackmon 67-Yard Fiesta Bowl Touchdown (2012)

This 67-yard play does even crack the top 10 of longest passing plays at OSU history. But it was one of the most significant. It kept the Cowboys going blow-for-blow with Andrew Luck’s Cardinal and was one of the highlights for most Oklahoma State fans.

I’m sure I missed one or two great ones so share your favorites below.

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