OSU’s inside lane to Big 12 title game is hard-earned, well-deserved

OSU’s inside lane to Big 12 title game is hard-earned, well-deserved

If you can’t be 100% content with the “really, really solid” Cowboys who, by beating BYU next Saturday, improve to 9-3 and put themselves in prime position to return to AT&T Stadium for Big 12 glory… The problem is yours, not the Cowboys’.

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

| Nov 18, 2023, 9:24pm CST

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

Nov 18, 2023, 9:24pm CST

HOUSTON — Less than a week from playing for a trip to the Big 12 title game, Mike Gundy has his Oklahoma State Cowboys figured out.

“We’re not knocking anybody’s socks off in any of the three categories,” he said of OSU’s offense, defense and special teams. “We just gotta kind of play as a group, and as coaches manage the game properly, try to minimize mistakes and capitalize if the other team makes a few.”

That’s how the Cowboys beat Houston 43-30 Saturday.

Coaches made adjustments to get Ollie Gordon going and to stifle Houston quarterback Donovan Smith. Alan Bowman went from his early pick-6 to a 348-yard game starring Brennan Presley.

The other team made a few mistakes, notably Jamal Morris’ 15-yard personal foul for taunting Gordon, a mistake that resuscitated OSU’s first touchdown drive, and Smith’s interception right to Trey Rucker, an error that set up OSU’s second touchdown.

The Cowboys needn’t apologize for those breaks. It’s November. Time to take them where you can get them.

They shouldn’t apologize that their offense isn’t the Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon laser light show that won the 2011 Big 12 championship, and their defense isn’t a fortress like the Malcolm Rodriguez/Devin Harper bricklayers that lugged OSU to the Big 12 championship game.

They’re just fine as they are.

“We play really good complementary football,” Bowman said before leaving Houston. “We’re just a really, really solid team.”

Gallery: OSU’s 43-30 win at Houston in pictures

No Images found.

Maybe that doesn’t fly at Georgia, Ohio State or Alabama. But at OSU? After a 7-6 2022 season and given the 2-2 start to this one? Heck, given the 42-point setback at UCF just last week?

If you can’t be 100% content with the “really, really solid” Cowboys who, by beating BYU next Saturday, improve to 9-3 and put themselves in prime position to return to AT&T Stadium for Big 12 glory… The problem is yours, not the Cowboys’.

Also, there’s a Cowboy you need to listen to immediately.

“We started the season 2-2 and people are booing and saying this and that,” Presley said after his 15-catch, 189-yard showcase at Houston. “And then we go on a streak, and then lose like that last week and people are saying whatever… It’s just been a rollercoaster.

“I think this team is one of the most resilient teams I’ve been around. Most teams would have folded today.”

Houston led 23-9 with the ball near midfield late in the first half.

“That’s what I appreciate about this season but also this team,” Presley said. “I’ll think about the people I’m playing with forever.”

I think we know who should speak first at the Presley family Thanksgiving.

Regardless of what happens next Saturday against BYU, or how the Big 12 standings shake out late that night, there is much to be thankful for in Stillwater. That should have set in along OSU’s five-game winning streak. I thought it absolutely did set in by the end of Bedlam.

Then 45-3 at UCF happened, and the 23-9 deficit at Houston happened… And I just want to be clear about what has occurred here.

The team that lost 33-7 to South Alabama, the one that looked like it might have been a candidate for FCS contention, is still in Big 12 contention.

“We already knew what we had in September, even with our losses,” cornerback Cam Smith said after sealing the Houston win with an interception. “We knew if we stayed together…”

Everyone figured they were coming apart.

“It’s about the process,” defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo said. “I know that is coach talk.”

So let Nardo get into something that isn’t…

“Northwest Missouri had a four-year run where they went 55-2 and won three national championships,” he continued. “Their steps going out of their locker room have their schedule printed on them, those 15 steps with 15 games to win the national championship. That’s how they focus on the process and don’t look at the top or you’ll trip on the bottom.

“I mentioned that over the summer to our guys… You have to embrace the process and enjoy what you’re doing. That’s what our guys have done, good, bad or indifferent.”

There has been a lot more good than bad, even if the bad has been terrible. We saw that again on Saturday.

We also saw the resilience that Presley is so proud of again.

The reward for that is those Big 12 stakes in the balance next week at Boone Pickens Stadium. It is a just reward.

“We’re not 11-0 and it hasn’t been an easy road for us. We’ve had to go up and down,” Bowman said. “To be able to be in this position is special. There are a lot of teams that would love to be in our spot right now. We can’t take that for granted.”

They won’t. Because nobody appreciates what they’ve been through to get to this point more.

Share with your crowd
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. .

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • SGA for MVP? The case for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, ‘the best player on the floor’

  • Mr. Cowboy: How John Smith said goodbye to Oklahoma State wrestling

  • There’s time for NBA Playoff concerns. Now is the time for Thunder appreciation

  • Oklahoma's Kelly Maxwell (28) pitches during a college softball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and BYU at Love's Field in Norman, Okla., Saturday, April 13, 2024. Oklahoma won 7-3.

    Why OU’s pitching staff would be sunk without Kelly Maxwell

  • Oct 7, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Da'Jon Terry (95) and defensive lineman Jordan Kelley (88) and linebacker Jaren Kanak (7) celebrate during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Another sign the SEC era is upon us: Sooners’ practice-field trash talking

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • SGA for MVP? The case for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, ‘the best player on the floor’

  • Mr. Cowboy: How John Smith said goodbye to Oklahoma State wrestling

  • There’s time for NBA Playoff concerns. Now is the time for Thunder appreciation

  • Oklahoma's Kelly Maxwell (28) pitches during a college softball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and BYU at Love's Field in Norman, Okla., Saturday, April 13, 2024. Oklahoma won 7-3.

    Why OU’s pitching staff would be sunk without Kelly Maxwell

  • Oct 7, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Da'Jon Terry (95) and defensive lineman Jordan Kelley (88) and linebacker Jaren Kanak (7) celebrate during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Another sign the SEC era is upon us: Sooners’ practice-field trash talking