STILLWATER — Oklahoma State has three regular-season games left and is one away from reaching last year’s win total of seven games.
Oklahoma State’s 7-6 record last season was the first time in three years the Cowboys didn’t reach 10 wins and just the second time in 11 seasons they won fewer than eight games. The Cowboys are getting their second breather of the season with another off week before finishing out the regular season.
“We’re working the young guys quite a bit,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “And then the veterans are getting not a lot of work trying to recover and essentially rehabilitate their bodies.”
The bye week follows two tough wins against Iowa State and TCU after losing consecutive games in the two weeks prior. The losses to Texas Tech and Baylor were primarily because of a combined eight turnovers.
However, the Cowboys have been plus-five in the turnover battle the past two games, against a No. 23-ranked Iowa State team and a TCU team that has the best defense in the Big 12 Conference.
“There are key ingredients in this league,” Gundy said. “The penalties and special teams, and then not giving up big plays. We are competing and when we don’t give up big plays and win the turnover battle, we are generally in every game. So that’s kind of what our goal is as we’re moving forward.”
The back-to-back wins may have brought life back to the Cowboys’ season, even after losing receiver Tylan Wallace to a season-ending knee injury. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles had a tough first year last season, but the Cowboys beat the Cylcones and Horned Frogs largely based on the solid play from his defense.
“There are some young players that are maturing as the season goes on,” Gundy said about the defense. “I’m really excited about next year because basically everybody is back.”
OSU’s final three regular-season games are against Kansas, West Virginia and Oklahoma. Former OSU coach Les Miles has improved the KU program in his first season, but the Jayhawks haven’t defeated the Cowboys since 2007.
The Cowboys have a four-game winning streak against a West Virginia program that hasn’t won a game since September. History is in favor of OSU for the next two games, which would put the Cowboys at an 8-3 record.
OSU hasn’t won Bedlam since 2014, but the Cowboys’ three-game winning streak in bowl games should have fans optimistic about winning at least nine games this year, especially if the defense continues to play well.