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Oklahoma State Was Never Going 12-0, but Let 2013 and 2016 Offer Hope



There was much talk on Saturday night. Much talk. From fans about what was lost. From the players and coaches about what wasn’t. Mason Rudolph called the loss to TCU a “small hiccup” in the big picture.

I know most of those of us watching didn’t feel the same.

Oklahoma State could muster just 7 points in the first quarter and gained just over 100 rushing yards throughout despite feeding its backs over and over again. They turned the ball over four times and at one point tried to use a wide receiver at quarterback.

As a result, Oklahoma State lost its Big 12 opener.

But I’m not talking about 2017. I’m talking about two other years.

In 2013, Oklahoma State went to West Virginia, could do little offensively, got some poor special teams play and averaged just under 3 yards a carry on the ground. The Mountaineers beat them 30-21. The Cowboys won seven straight and played OU in December for the Big 12 title.

In 2016, Oklahoma State went to Baylor and coughed the ball up over and over again. Four turnovers in all. Dillon Stoner threw a pass (which I don’t remember), and Baylor knew it got away with one 35-24. The Cowboys won seven straight and played OU in December for the Big 12 title.

So you could say they’ve been here before. Twice. And twice they have played for the conference crown on the last weekend of the regular season. And neither of those offenses was as good as this one.

There was a lot of angst on Saturday evening from the orange faithful. Typical Poke Choke. Gundy does this every year. I knew this was coming. Those kinds of things.

It’s true that OSU did not play well on Saturday. Nobody who is a rational human being thinks otherwise. But it’s not true that Gundy does this every year or that what happened on Saturday is unusual nationally.

I know it doesn’t feel like it right now because OSU just lost as a 2-TD favorite at home in the Big 12 opener and OU has won 17 Big 12 games in a row, but since Gundy took over in 2005, OSU has won 86 percent of the games it has been favored in. OU has won 82 percent.

There are innumerable “yeah, but …” follow-ups to that, I realize, but I use it to point out that going 12-0 in a season (or even 11-1) is outrageously difficult no matter which team you are (unless you are Alabama). It just doesn’t happen.

Since 2011, two college football teams have won every game in a season (Ohio State in 2012 and Florida State in 2013). That’s roughly 750 team seasons, and two unbeatens (and Ohio State was ineligible for postseason play in 2012).

Even if you look at regular season only, mighty Alabama has run the regular season table just three times in the 10 seasons Nick Saban has been there and only once since 2010. OU hasn’t done it since 2004.

You know why?

Because it’s nearly impossible to get all the calls, all the breaks, all the balls bouncing your way and all the injury luck for 15 straight weeks. When you’re Alabama and Oklahoma, it’s almost impossible, I mean. When you’re Oklahoma State it’s beyond that.

Great programs don’t not lose, but great programs do respond when it happens. Oklahoma State has been a great program under Mike Gundy, and it has responded in years past.

“You lose a game that you feel like you could have won if you play better,” said Mike Gundy on Monday. “You don’t sell the farm and change what you’re doing like a lot people would like. You make minor corrections that are actually feasible to manage within a 2-3 day period to get ready to play again.”

Everything feels crappy right now, I know. Part of that is because of the timing of the loss — as soon as OSU moves to No. 6, first Big 12 game etc. But the exact same things that were said on Saturday after TCU were said in 2013 after West Virginia and in 2016 after Baylor. This is what we do as fans. That’s part of the fun.

What hasn’t changed, though, is that Oklahoma State still has a Heisman-level QB and All-Big 12 rusher. It still has pros at wideout and a fast defense (that, admittedly, needs some work). People who preach longevity with this season will get killed on social media and beyond, and that’s fine. It’s what happened in each of those last two years when OSU played for the Big 12 trophy. All was lost … and then it was December and we were all flipping on a de facto Big 12 title game.

“The outside world takes wins and losses different than we do,” said Gundy. “On Saturday half the teams in the country lose so half the teams in the country have to go back to work on Sunday and Monday and get over it, or it’s not fun the next week.

“We try to stay level-headed, even with the wins. People outside the program, you get big wins and they go crazy, and we’re making hotel reservations for this and that. When we know in our world we have a body of work we have to get accomplished during the week. I hope that our guys understand that from the history of this program, and I think they do.”

The Big 12 is a long ride, and Oklahoma State is as good as any team in the league. Don’t let four quarters affect the way you think about that. Does that mean OSU is going to run the table again? No. Injuries could pile up. Lubbock could get weird, who knows. But it’s at least in play that this team could win its next eight in a row.

“I think you’re going to see eight weeks from now where people say there’s a ton of parity in this league,” said Gundy. “Gonna be a lot of battles in this league. It’s going to be great for the fans, great for everybody. It’s going to be hard on the coaches because there are a lot of teams that are right in the same boat.

“It’s going to be based on the health of your team, based on turnovers, based on key special teams plays. We’re one of those that’s right in the middle of that.”

So if you want Yurcich, Spencer and, hell, Gundy fired, that’s fine. But remember that they’re the same coaches that have guided OSU to one of the 10 best records in college football in the last four years. Doubt their ability to right this ship for some November and December fun at your own risk.

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