The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 25, 2012

Gundy: There's no 2nd place

By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

NORMAN — — There was a time a three-point overtime loss against Oklahoma would have carried some weight for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. And there was a time when a 51-48 win against lowly OSU would have been a disappointment in Norman.

Neither is true anymore.

“I’ve never had so much fun in my life,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, whose team never led until Brennan Clay’s decisive overtime score. “What a classic in a lot of ways.”

The one way that it wasn’t was the only one that mattered for the Cowboys, now 17-83-7 in Bedlam history.

“Ultimately, there’s no second place,” said OSU head coach Mike Gundy after his seventh loss in eight tries against the Sooners.

“The truth is, the better your program is, the more success you have, the more highly regarded you are, the harder it is to lose,” Gundy later added. “You get in a World Series, a Super Bowl, a state championship game and you lose, it’s a crushing blow, and the only reason is you’ve taken it to another level. For the most part, this program is at a different level.”

And OSU is in a different place with OU. Emboldened by a 44-10 in the series’ 106th chapter a season ago, the Cowboys weren’t outclassed as they had been in most matchups against their cross-state rivals, leading 14-0 early and 38-27 late Saturday.

The respect would seem to be mutual. Almost 89,000 mostly Sooner-faithful fans — 3,700 more than capacity and the second-largest crowd ever to watch a game at Owen Field — stuffed the stands to watch what was expected to be a toss-up instead of the traditional beatdown.

But just competing against OU — or any other premier team — isn’t considered a step in the right direction for the Cowboys anymore. Instead, it’s just a loss.

“We didn’t win the game, (so) it’s not a step,” said OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken. “To me, we’re a good football program, we’ve got a good football team, and we’ve proven that the whole year. Unfortunately, we’ve found a way to lose four games, and we’ve had a chance to win all four ... Whether it was OU, or at Kansas State, or at Arizona, or at home (against Texas), you expect to win.”

Now 7-4 and out of contention for a second straight and second-ever Big 12 title at 5-3, the Cowboys have to find solace in a potential nine-win season — OSU visits Baylor at 11 a.m. Saturday and currently is projected to play Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Dec. 29 in Phoenix.

Before, that would have been a more than acceptable season. In 2012, it’s a consolation prize.

“Whatever happened today, it’s our responsibility as a staff, and as a team to not allow that to affect the next game,” Gundy said. “That’s easier said than done, but you don’t have a choice.”

The OSU-Baylor game can be seen at 11 a.m. on Fx (Channel 31, Suddenlink).

OSU is ranked No. 24 in the Associated Poll this week and No. 25 in the Harris Interactive CollegePoll.