Mike Gundy Houdini’d again Saturday night, but can he escape Texas?

Mike Gundy Houdini’d again Saturday night, but can he escape Texas?

It will likely take OSU’s best to beat Texas’ strongest team since the 2009 Horns finished national runners-up.

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

| Nov 25, 2023, 8:58pm CST

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

Nov 25, 2023, 8:58pm CST

STILLWATER — The best reason to hope for an Oklahoma State takedown of Texas at next Saturday’s Big 12 championship is Mike Gundy. 

That’s not to assert he’s a better coach than Steve Sarkisian or to point out he has won six of his last eight games against the Longhorns since 2015, or nine of his last 13 since 2010.

It’s a salute to Gundy’s uncanny ability to climb out of holes, whether in his starting lineup, his coaching staff, or in games like Saturday night’s 40-34 double-overtime rally over BYU. The Cowboys had all the life of a flattened possum on Highway 51 over the opening hour and a half. They won anyhow. 

They get Texas, 11-1 and aiming for Big 12 and College Football Playoff glory, next.

“Obviously Texas is playing at a very high level right now,” said Gundy, who did not watch the Longhorns’ dismissal of Texas Tech Friday night but saw the 57-7 score, which was plenty. “Texas has great players, always had them. Not an easy team to play. But I like my team.”

That was the vibe in OSU’s postgame interview room Saturday night.

“We were up at our hotel watching. They did a really good job against Tech,” Collin Oliver said. “They look like a complete team.”

And yet…

“I think we can win,” Oliver said. “I think we can beat anybody if we play our best, honestly. That’s always gonna be the case.”

It will likely take OSU’s best to beat Texas’ strongest team since the 2009 Horns finished national runners-up. 

“They are exactly what they deserve to be,” said defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo, who was going to watch Texas-Texas Tech until the Nardos’ day-after-Thanksgiving tradition of putting up the Christmas tree took precedence. “I’ve seen them on crossover film (film of OSU opponents playing against Texas). Their defense is very good. I know the tradition and the history that place has. Nothing but respect for them.”

“Respect to them,” Ollie Gordon echoed a few minutes later. “They always put out a great program.”

Gordon says he went to high school with Anthony Hill, Texas’ terrific freshman linebacker. Hill is sure to lock onto Gordon as most linebackers and safeties have, which means OSU quarterback Alan Bowman must come out sharper than he did against BYU. 

The Cowboys must come out sharper. If they trail Texas 24-6 at halftime like they trailed BYU, they are likely to lose 44-16. 

Gundy isn’t sure what to do about the slow starts that have derailed his team the past three weeks. He’d better come up with a solution between now and next Saturday. 

He needs to light a fire under his special teams while he’s at it. 

While the Longhorns were returning a kickoff for a touchdown and drilling five field goals against Tech, the Cowboys were fumbling a kickoff return which they fortunately recovered against BYU; were allowing a recovered onside kick which was fortunately nullified by a BYU penalty; and were missing an extra point toward the end of regulation which they fortunately overcame in overtime. 

If the Pokes can fix those flats, they can start worrying about Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, wide receiver Xavier Worthy, tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders and Hill’s fellow marauders on defense.

“It was crazy how they were able to impose their will,” OSU marauder Nick Martin said of what Texas did to Tech. “It’s gonna be fun to play against great competitors and a great team like that. It’s gonna be cool.”

It will be cool seeing a team that was once 2-2 and left for hopeless take their shot at a Big 12 trophy. Full credit to the Cowboys for their resolve, their second-half and overtime clean-up against BYU included. 

Resolve and belief should bolster OSU in the next six days. 

“I’m just really excited,” Martin said. “I’m ready to get started on this preparation.”

Come 11 a.m. next Saturday, the Cowboys must reach peak gameday level. There is no way around that. 

At least they do believe. 

At least they have an escape artist as head coach. 

Maybe Gundy can even get them out of Jerry World with a trophy. That would be a fancier trick than what he pulled off against BYU. It might be the fanciest of his 19-year career. 

While Gundy missed what Texas did to Texas Tech, he did watch the Horns lose to Oklahoma Oct. 7, their lone blemish. 

“Other than that they’ve rolled pretty good,” he said.

Yes, they have. 

The Pokes had better buckle up, Gundy included.

 

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Guerin Emig is a columnist for the Sellout Crowd network. Read his work at selloutcrowd.com and guerinemig.com. Reach out with feedback and/or ideas at [email protected] or (918) 629-6229. Follow him on Twitter at @GuerinEmig and Instagram at @guerin.emig. .

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