By MURRAY EVANS
STILLWATER — To a man, Oklahoma State football players insisted Monday they were focused on the Cowboys’ next opponent, Baylor. That doesn’t mean it has been easy to put aside the disappointment of two days earlier.
Oklahoma State never trailed Oklahoma until the final play of overtime, losing 51-48 on Saturday in the annual Bedlam game. Then, as the Cowboys exited Owen Field, they witnessed a raucous celebration by the Sooners and their fans, the type of outburst usually reserved for a win in a big bowl game or over longtime rival Texas.
“They should have been celebrating,” running back Joseph Randle said. “You should celebrate when you get lucky. We feel like they got lucky and, you know, they won the game and we lost, so they deserved to celebrate that win.”
Randle said the way the Sooners celebrated “means that they felt like they should have lost coming into the game. You know, regardless of rankings and all of that different stuff, they didn’t think they was going to come in there and just blow us out. I guarantee you that. We felt like we was going to blow them out, honestly. I felt like, ‘This was going to be easy.’ But it is what it is. We lost. They won. Congratulations.”
Instead of the usual Sunday routine, coach Mike Gundy allowed his players to watch comedy clips of their choice “and they laughed for a long time” before settling in to view game film and start prepping for the game at Baylor (6-5, 3-5 Big 12).
“The good thing about college football is you have to get right back at it, whether you feel like it or not,” Gundy said. “Our team came over last night and spent some time together and spirits were good by the time they left the facility.”
Oklahoma State (7-4, 5-3) will play its eighth game in as many weeks and Gundy said his players - and coaches - needed the mental break. He said losing to Oklahoma was harder on him and the coaching staff that it was on the players.
“It starts with us,” Gundy said. “I’m not even scared to say that that was the first thing that we discussed in our staff meeting yesterday, was that we have to get over it first, and then we have to make sure the players understand, which they do . that if they don’t practice well tomorrow, it takes about 30 percent of our chance away from winning on Saturday.”
That doesn’t mean it’s easy.
“I never get over it,” Gundy said. “I’m going to wake up three years from now talking about, or thinking about, this game. Just like I do the Holiday Bowl, just like I did the Cotton Bowl, just like the Texas game from this year. That never really goes away.”
For their part, players said they need to play well against Baylor, which has won three of its last four games. During the past two weeks, the Bears knocked off then-No. 2 Kansas State 52-24, then beat Texas Tech 52-45 in overtime.
Behind quarterback Nick Florence, Baylor averages 575.5 yards per game of offense, tops in the Big 12. Oklahoma State is second at 547.9 yards per game. But while the Cowboys are fifth in total defense, Baylor is last in the conference in that category, surrendering an average of 509.7 yards per game.
Oklahoma State has won six straight and 15 of its last 16 games against Baylor, including a 59-24 romp last year, during which the Cowboys effectively controlled the Bears’ eventual Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III, and jumped to a 42-0 lead. Oklahoma State held Griffin without a touchdown pass.
“The challenges with Baylor are going to be the same as it’s been the last few weeks,” linebacker Shaun Lewis said. “We’ve been playing some of the top offenses in the country the past month, and the expectation is the same. We want to limit the run game and make them one-dimensional. We know coach is going to come up with a great game plan this week.”