PFB - Saturday’s Texas Win Could Prove to be Seminal Moment for Oklahoma State’s Program

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Greenhorn
Feb 17, 2018
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Kyle Boone wrote smartly on Wednesday about what OSU’s win over Texas means for the rest of 2018. It certainly could serve as (like Kyle noted) an inflection point for a 2018 season that seemed as if it was circling the drain and maybe even halfway down it. But let’s pull back even further and talk about what it means for the program as a whole.

I had a conversation with a PFB reader (and friend!) named Taylor on Sunday at Aspen as I pounded out #content and reflected on Saturday night. We talked about how we both felt an air in the stadium that Oklahoma State was going to win before the game started. I wrote that in my notes after the game, and I’m sure Taylor would have had he been taking notes.

It was … weird, right? What about the weeks leading up to that Texas game screamed, “OSU WILL BEAT TEXAS IN STILLWATER FOR JUST THE THIRD TIME … EVER WITH THIS OFFENSE AND THAT DEFENSE.”

Nothing. Less than nothing. And yet, maybe strangely, there was a swagger in the building. The Hubbard Telescope talked about that after the game.

“We knew we could come back and get this win no matter who it is or what we’re up against,” said Chuba Hubbard. “We’re a great team, and I’m proud to be a Cowboy.”

One of the things we learned on Saturday is that when OSU gets really good QB play — which it did from Cornelius against UT — it can beat a pretty good Big 12 team. One of the other things we learned on Saturday is that 2018 is not going to be 2014 redux. There will be no program-changing Bedlam. The way Gundy has talked about this season all season is very different from the way he talked about 2014 when we were in the middle of it, even if the results were starting to become startlingly similar.

“We’ve been energetic,” said Gundy after the game on Saturday of his 2018 team. “We just didn’t play very energetic (until the Texas game).”

So while I don’t think this Texas game will be remembered from a program perspective in the same way the 2014 OU game is remembered (things weren’t that bad … yet), I do think it could hold its own place in the pantheon of great Gundy and OSU games. I think it can be a reminder: If OSU can beat a top-10 Texas team playing like they did in the lead up, maybe they can do a lot more than we think.

Gundy seemed to be aware of the importance of what OSU did on Saturday, and specifically how they did it, as he reflected on it on Monday in his weekly press conference.

“(It was) the best atmosphere we’ve had here in a long time,” said Gundy. “If we want to continue to grow this program, it can’t just be the coaches and players. It has to be the people involved. I’m thankful for everybody that’s here … everybody has a role to play, everybody has to do their part.

“I know Saturdays are tough. There’s a lot going on. Soccer games and dance and little league baseball. If you want to continue to grow and develop into a big time football program, these games that we play at home, you have to have sellouts. Nobody left at halftime and didn’t come back in. I know all the way through the game it was loud and disruptive. The players felt the energy, and it made a difference.”

Maybe the rest of the season gets a jump-start from what Corn and Co. did in BPS last Saturday, and that thread continues into 2019 and beyond. Maybe not — the next few weekends will probably be telling — but in a sport where so few games are played, the big ones mean so much. That’s just a (sometimes unfortunate) reality of this sport. Trajectories, legacies and even jobs swing on singular plays like they don’t in any other sport. That’s part of the fun (or dread!) of college football!

While I don’t know how the season will play out or what the next few will look like, I do know a few things. I know OSU needed a win against the Horns as badly as they’ve needed one in several years. I know that the entire stadium (fans, coaches, players) were pointed downhill all night (maybe irrationally so!). And I know that in a momentum-shaped industry like CFB, a win like that — on Homecoming, on ABC, in the throwbacks — means more than it would otherwise. It just does. It can even help shape the future of the culture in Stillwater.

“We’re going to take what we get, but I run into people in the community … and I’ll say, ‘In order to make this a big-time program, you have to do your part,'” said Gundy. “‘You have to come to the games when you can. You have to be loud. You have to support the guys.’ We had 23 big-time prospects there, and I think 20 of them were offers. I’m going to guess all of them left saying this was a big-time college football environment.

“Makes a big difference when you’re recruiting against other schools that are trying to accomplish the same goals we are. Kudos to the fans and alums, but it can’t just be Homecoming. It has to be every game. We have to do our part, and the people who love this school and program have to do their part if it’s going to be a big-time organization. There’s not many tradition-rich top 10-15 programs across the country that don’t have big time crowds on game days.”

Not only did that game represent who OSU wants to be as a team but also what its environment should be like. It was electric, very Bedlam 2017ish … except that OSU won. When we think about singular games that helped shape the future into a success, it won’t be the first game off the tongue, but I think it will be near the top. The contrast is more stark than some other top games (like West Virginia in 2016) because of how much OSU was struggling.

Beating Texas in Stillwater last Saturday helps shape the rest of this season, sure, but it could also serve as a signpost for the trajectory of the Oklahoma State program. It reversed a troubling trend of poor play and set in motion the pieces for a strong finish in 2018 and fast start in 2019. It, more than anything, provided hope for everyone, which as we all know is the most valuable and coveted of all commodities in the sport of college football.



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