Oklahoma State’s game at West Virginia will be a milestone game for Cowboy coach Mike Gundy.
It will be his 400th game with OSU as either a player or a coach.
Now, that isn’t close to being a record. For starters, Joe Paterno coached Penn State for 545 games. Gundy would have to stick around for another 10 or 12 years to approach that mark.
But still, that doesn’t diminish the fact that 400 games with one program is significant.
“The majority of my life has been here,” Gundy said earlier this week. “I came here in ’86 and was gone for five years (as an assistant at Baylor and Maryland) and then back, and other than that, this is where I’ve been.”
Gundy is easily the most important on-field figure in the history of Cowboy football.
You could make the argument that he’s most important overall, but the transformational amount of money that Boone Pickens poured into the program makes it tough to put him anywhere other than at the top. Without Pickens’ money, Gundy’s road as a coach would’ve been much bumpier.
“We’ve seen a lot, done a lot here, built a lot here,” Gundy said. “We have Oklahoma State football at a level that has a national brand and we’re very proud of that. Those are things that I enjoy.
“As a head coach … we’ve graduated over 500 players. That’s a big deal to me.
“But this is just who I am. This place is who I am. Been lucky that they’ve kept me around here for this long. They had a number of chances to run me off, and they haven’t done it.”
Here’s a look at Gundy’s involvement in OSU football over the years:
Quarterback, 1986-89, 46 games, 30-16 record.
Assistant coach, 1990-95 and 2001-04, 116 games, 46-67-3 record.
Head coach, 2005-present, 237 games, 160-77 record.
Gundy, whose overall record as a part of the program is 236-160-3, isn’t sure how long he’ll continue coaching, but unlike seasons gone by when he hinted at coaching only a few more years, he sounded open to continuing this run for the foreseeable future.
“Knock on wood, I still have my health and enjoy it, like being around the players,” he said. “Wake up, and my brain’s working, so it’s good times.”
Here are some other tasty nuggets for you to chew on before OSU’s game at West Virginia gets under way at 2:30 p.m.:
Cowboy to watch: Hard to keep your eyes off Ollie Gordon. The Cowboy tailback is as electric as any player in the Big 12. A week ago, he accounted for 51% of OSU’s offensive yardage with 168 rushing yards and 116 receiving yards. How rare are those types of numbers? No FBS player in the past seven seasons has reached those rushing and receiving totals in the same game. Gordon is one of only five FBS players since 2000 to do so (Middle Tennessee State’s Richie James, 2016; West Virginia’s Steve Slaton, 2006; Utah State’s Emmett White, 2000; Minnesota’s Tellis Redmon, 2000).
Cowboy newcomer to watch: West Virginia has a stout offensive front that allows only 1.3 sacks per game and 4.7 tackles for loss per game, both marks that rank in the top 35 nationally. That means OSU needs to get some backfield penetration, and while we know Collin Oliver can bring it, Anthony Goodlow may well be the key to the Cowboys’ efforts. The defensive end transfer from Tulsa has had at least two quarterback hurries in each of the Cowboys’ Big 12 games, including a season-high three last week against Kansas, according to game analysis from Pro Football Focus.
Mountaineer to watch: Alan Bowman and the Cowboy passing game have gotten on track in conference play, but Mountaineer cornerback Beanie Bishop could throw them off their game. No cornerback in the Big 12 is better at disrupting passing attacks, leading the league in passes defended with nine (seven pass breakups and two interceptions).
A familiar face in Morgantown: His face might not be known to many Cowboys, but West Virginia defensive graduate assistant Luke Nardo is extremely familiar to OSU defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo. Yep, Luke is Bryan’s brother. The youngest of three Nardo brothers, Luke is in his first season at West Virginia.
Cool stat going into OSU-West Virginia: The Cowboys haven’t turned the ball over since their loss at Iowa State. None vs. Kansas State. None vs. Kansas. OSU now ranks 11th nationally in fewest turnovers lost this season (five).
Something to watch in Morgantown: OSU center Joe Michalski was the highest-grade center in FBS football in last week’s games, according to Pro Football Focus. Just one more sign that the Cowboy offensive line has turned a corner.
Did you know?: OSU is the only team in the Big 12 to have multiple games with more than one blocked kick. The Cowboys blocked two against Central Arkansas, then had two last week against Kansas. The only other league team to block more than one in a game this season: West Virginia against TCU.
If you go to Morgantown …: Take your rain gear. The National Weather Service says showers are likely in the afternoon. The scene may be reminiscent of last year’s OSU-West Virginia game in Stillwater which was played in a steady rain that only got heavier as the day went on.
If you don’t go …: Keep that remote handy. There are some other good matchups slated for the same time the Cowboys will be playing. Tennessee at Alabama. Washington State at Oregon. South Carolina at Missouri.
If I could be in two places: Give me Tallahassee. I’ve always wanted to see a night game at Doak Campbell Stadium, and Duke at Florida State would be a darn good time to do that. The Seminoles look like a possible playoff team while Jordan Travis looks like a possible Heisman candidate. But the Blue Devils are much, much improved and will present a test. Should be fun football.