Time to regroup
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Monday, November 21, 2011
11/21/11 at 3:46 AM
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There have been two Oklahoma State football teams this season.
One played fast and loose and with confidence, rolling to a 10-0 record and the No. 2 position in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
The other played at Ames, Iowa, on Friday night.
That Cowboy team, jarred earlier in the day by the notification that OSU women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash, committed five turnovers and was penalized 10 times in a 37-31, double-overtime defeat at Iowa State.
During a teleconference on Sunday night, OSU coach Mike Gundy was asked whether he can get his fast, loose, confident Cowboys back in time for their Dec. 3 Bedlam date with Oklahoma in Stillwater.
"No question. These guys will be fine," Gundy replied. "They'll practice well and be excited to play in the game. I don't have any concerns about their approach. It just wasn't our night (at Iowa State)."
Gundy also was asked whether the Iowa State upset was the most painful setback in his seven seasons as OSU's head man.
"They're all painful for me," he said. "I always see the different ways we could have won the game. I guess because of where we were ranked in the BCS, it was as painful as any of them. Maybe for the Oklahoma State people - the fans and the families - I guess it's as painful for them as anybody.
"If you look across the country, there are a bunch of people who have been through some painful ones this year. Life's not about what happens to you. It's about how you deal with what happens to you."
When the updated BCS standings were unveiled, the Cowboys had dropped to No. 4. They trail No. 1 and undefeated LSU, along with a pair of one-loss teams - No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Arkansas. Oklahoma State is positioned above three additional one-loss teams - Virginia Tech, Stanford and Boise State - along with an 11-0 Houston squad.
As it turned out, Oklahoma State's loss at Iowa State was not the only surprising outcome of the weekend. If not for upset losses by Oregon (38-35 to Southern Cal), Oklahoma (45-38 at Baylor) and Clemson (37-13 at North Carolina State), the Cowboys probably would be no higher than seventh in the current BCS standings.
"It's been a roller coaster for everybody," Gundy said. "There are more good football teams than ever and more parity than ever. People lose games. You just never know what to expect anymore, with what happens every Saturday."
Gundy says that as he examined his players during Friday's pregame warm-up at Iowa State, there were no obvious signs of anxiety - or that OSU would play such sloppy, disjointed football.
"You replay the game in your mind for what will be years for me," Gundy said. "I still think about the Cotton Bowl (the January 2010 Cotton Bowl loss to Ole Miss). It will never go away.
"You will second-guess your week's preparation. You will second-guess strategy. You will second-guess game decisions. It never goes away, (but) it's what we do. ... We think, 'If we had turned it over three times instead of five, you probably win the game by two touchdowns.' But we didn't. It's a tough way to learn a lesson, but that's what we did."
Gundy and his players have become accustomed to postgame celebrations. At Ames, the Cowboys dealt with defeat for the first time since last year's Bedlam loss.
"You're in there with a group of guys that has won 21 of their last 24 games," he said. "They're not used to losing. They've become winners. It's hard for them to take losses, and that's the way you want it to be.
"When you play better and win games, the stakes get higher. Guys make it to the last day of The Masters and don't play well. The farther you get and the better you get, it's tougher when you lose. You've got to get there and fight your fight. (Cowboy players) have to learn. It's adversity, and they'll be faced with it off and on for the rest of their life."
Goals to go
Losing at Iowa State kicked a huge dent in Oklahoma State's bid for a berth in the BCS national-title game, but the 10-1 Cowboys aren't completely eliminated from the possibility of playing in college football's biggest contest.
- With a Bedlam victory, the Cowboys would end their eight-game losing streak against OU and reach the 11-win mark for the second consecutive season - and the second time in program history.
- The Cowboys need an impressive Bedlam win and help from other sources to qualify for a berth in the national-title game.
OSU UP NEXT
7 p.m. Dec. 3
Radio: KFAQ am1170
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart walks off the field after the Cowboys' loss to Iowa State on Friday night. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World