After seeing his alma mater fall behind 24-7 against Iowa State on Saturday, Doug Gottlieb couldn’t take it anymore – especially not after the exact same thing happened against Texas Tech just a few weeks prior.
In both games, however, Oklahoma State came back to win – 70-53 against the Red Raiders and 35-31 against the Cyclones.
Gottlieb, though, would prefer more blowouts and fewer nail-biters. So would his heart.
“Well, you didn’t even throw in West Virginia and Texas along with it,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy joked on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show, referring to other games in which the Cowboys trailed before coming back to win. “But it’s interesting you mention that. It’s like when I watch my boys play sports and I have to sit there and watch it and I have no control over what happens. It absolutely drives you crazy. You’d rather be in the game either making the mistake or making the play yourself.”
But one week after wiping the floor with previously unbeaten TCU, 49-29 – and vaulting into the College Football Playoff discussion – Oklahoma State got off to a sluggish start against the Cyclones, trailing 24-7 in the second quarter and 31-21 in the fourth.
“We played as poorly on defense in the first half as we’ve played all year,” Gundy said. “And we talked about (handling expectations). We had good practices. (I told them), ‘Don’t listen to what’s outside. You have to work hard. This is how you go to this point.’ Our defense has been kind of what’s kept us together throughout the season. The offense has, at times, not played as well but then played really well late, and they were the ones kind of in a funk.”
Eventually, both sides of the ball came alive. Mason Rudolph threw for 327 yards and a touchdown and Chris Carson and J.W. Walsh rushed 12 times apiece for 98 yards and three touchdowns. As for the defense? The Cowboys allowed just seven points after halftime.
“My message to them,” Gundy said, “was, ‘You guys have to come out with he same fire that you did last week when we played TCU. There was a lot of hype around the game, you were playing at home, there was a big challenge, nobody had slowed TCU down on offense. You guys came out with a big-time fight in your stomach.’ It didn’t happen on defense (in the first half), but fortunately we made adjustments. We gave up 100 yards in the second half and we were able to find a way to win the game.”
With the win, Oklahoma State improved to 10-0 and is ranked fourth in this week’s AP Poll. Gottlieb, for one, has been highly impressed with the Cowboys, especially since he considered this year “a bridge year.” After all, Rudolph had only started a couple of games last year, Gundy had to rework the offensive line, and there were injuries on defense.
If anyone expected this team to start 10-0, well, it wasn’t him.
“I think what you’re saying is really accurate,” Gundy said. “You have some of the key ingredients to a really successful year, but not enough to say that we could get to this point. It’s just been one of those seasons where they’ve just kind of been able to overcome what we needed to in each game. So I would be mistaken in saying that I really thought that we would be at a point where we’re 10-0.”
Oklahoma State has two stiff challenges remaining on its schedule, both at home: No. 6 Baylor on Nov. 21 and No. 12 Oklahoma on Nov. 28.
Oklahoma won at Baylor, 44-34, on Saturday, but Gundy expects a tough game this Saturday.
“All you have to do is watch them on tape,” Gundy said of the Bears. “They’ve worked hard to get this far and they’ve maximized their talent and ability. The good news is, we get to come home, there will be 60,000 people here and the atmosphere will be tremendous and there will be a lot of excitement. I would anticipate it being a big-time football game. We think we can make some plays and obviously they’re going to make some plays because they’re a very talented team. It’s what you come here for. You get a chance to play at the very highest level, and our players will be excited and have a great week of preparation.”
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET.