Cowboys prove they're ready for Baylor

November, 17, 2013
11/17/13
1:45
AM ET


AUSTIN, Texas -- Mike Gundy didn’t own up to it, but his Oklahoma State players couldn’t hide the truth.

Gundy did some dancing on Saturday night. He busted out his famous moves in the locker room after the Cowboys’ 38-13 victory at No. 24 Texas.

It didn't take long for the video find its way to the Internet and not surprisingly, it looks similar to the one from after his 2011 win at Texas A&M.

“He only has one dance,” linebacker Shaun Lewis said. “So, I mean, it’s good to see him do it.”

Gundy had plenty to celebrate. Oklahoma State went on the road and whipped a Longhorns team that was 6-0 in the Big 12 by 25 points, on a day when OSU’s conference titles hopes would be dead with a loss.

[+] EnlargeClint Chelf
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsClint Chelf (10), Desmond Roland and Oklahoma State had plenty to celebrate in their win over Texas.
And that win sets up a whale of a game in Stillwater, Okla., next weekend between the Cowboys, winners of six in a row, and a 9-0 Baylor team that routed Texas Tech 63-34 and should move to No. 4 in the BCS standings following Stanford’s loss.

And even though the Bears were dominant as usual, the question must now be raised after what we witnessed Saturday: Can Oklahoma State win the Big 12?

“I certainly think we’ve got as good chance as anybody,” Gundy said. “We’re in playoff football right now. You’ve got to win the next one to get to the next one.

“If you’d have asked me that six weeks ago and I would’ve said we had as good a chance as anybody, you guys probably would’ve got up and walked out. And justifiably so.”

Why even Gundy marvels at about his team’s turnaround is the fact that, as he puts it, a college football team only gets two real, full practices each week. In the days following the Pokes’ 30-21 loss at West Virginia, his staff recognized that hurdle. You can’t change a season in one week.

All you can do with eight practices in one month is commit to gradual, daily improvement. OSU scraped out close wins over Kansas State and TCU. A solution to its offensive woes emerged in the duo of Clint Chelf and Desmond Roland.

And that Cowboys defense just keeps getting better. This unit, led by defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, knew the formula for attacking Texas. Put extra help in the box. Slow down a Johnathan Gray-less run game. Dare Case McCoy to beat you through the air. Get the edge early and raise the pressure.

“That’s what we wanted to do when we were coming out of the locker room,” cornerback Justin Gilbert said. “We said ‘Let’s shut them up early and let’s play together.’”

The result: The Longhorns scored a season-low 13 points. McCoy threw three interceptions, two to Gilbert. Texas ran for 21 yards on seven carries in the third quarter while trying to rally.

“Coach Spencer came up with a great plan,” said linebacker Caleb Lavey, who snagged McCoy’s second interception.

But we knew Texas was offensively flawed. Is Oklahoma State ready for the Baylor juggernaut?

The Bears spotted Texas Tech a 20-7 lead in the first quarter Saturday night. Then Levi Norwood ran back a punt for a score, Baylor took a 21-20 lead to end the first and never trailed the rest of the night. They scored in five plays or less on five of their first six touchdowns.

Texas Tech briefly put up a valiant fight. But Baylor just keeps rolling

“They’re on the verge of what you would call a great college football team,” Gundy said.

And it seems this Oklahoma State team is on the verge of something special. They’ve played at Boone Pickens Stadium only four times this season. They close out the year on their home turf against Baylor and Oklahoma.

Texas, by the way, isn’t out of the picture but got a startling reality check. A six-game streak to begin Big 12 play had the Longhorns dreaming of running the table and of Mack Brown silencing all his critics.

OSU humbled them with relative ease. Now they need to knock of Texas Tech and Baylor and get a little help from the Pokes -- like, say, a loss to the Bears -- to win the league.

The Longhorns no longer control their own destiny. Oklahoma State does. Baylor does. They put all on the line next Saturday.

“These are the ones that you live for,” Lavey said.

The preparation begins Sunday. The Cowboys know about the hype surrounding Baylor. And they know they can give the Bears a ballgame.

“We definitely want to knock those guys off, especially at home,” Gilbert said. “It’ll be a delightful moment. Aren’t they undefeated? That’ll be tremendous.”

Max Olson | email

Texas/Big 12 reporter

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