They call it a prayer, but the Chippewas actually needed a disastrous blunder by the officials (and a Hail Mary! that never should have been) to earn a win against Oklahoma State six years ago. That fiasco still casts a shadow on Boone Pickens Stadium where the two teams will meet again Thursday.
If you’re an OSU fan — or even a casual consumer of college football — you no doubt remember the extra play that CMU was awarded that resulted in the upset in 2016.
With a lead, Mason Rudolph attempted to run out the clock by throwing the ball away before the MAC officials calling the game incorrectly awarded the Chippewas an additional possession. A prayer of a pass was thrown short, tapped back, caught and OSU officially lost the game.
During his first media luncheon of the 2022 season, Mike Gundy was (of course) asked about the last time CMU came to BPS. For what it’s worth, he stated that this go-round would be proceeded over by a Power Fiver crew.
“One of my goals, at some point when I’m done, I’m gonna write a book,” said Gundy. “I have so much stuff, I don’t know if you’ll be able to get it in an actual book. There’ll be a good chapter on that.”
In a mix of poetry and irony, Gundy could hit a career milestone against Central Michigan. If the Cowboys start out their 2022 season 1-0, Gundy will have his career win No. 150. That’s quite an accomplishment, especially with all of those victories coming at the same school.
But Gundy joked on Thursday that if things were made right following the two schools’ last meeting, he would have already reached said landmark.
“… I want to be able to, at some point, figure out how I can get that win back, because I’d already be at 150,” Gundy said. “Then we wouldn’t be talking about it. But there’s gotta be some circuit judge that would say, ‘The game was really over,’ you know?
“But anyway, that was the crazy part. The guys made a mistake. The officials made a mistake. You know, it’s interesting, the discussion I had with them. I said, ‘I don’t think this is right.’ And they said, ‘Well, we talked about it and we do.’ I said, ‘OK, I’ve never heard of this on an offensive penalty.’ But it’s all gone now.”
OSU’s offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn was just its receivers coach at the time. He was on the sideline and had a front-row view of the debacle and is intent on making sure that the rematch doesn’t come down to a final play.
“I remember it didn’t feel very good and when I got home and I’m sitting on my patio it felt worse, and I remember thinking that that was one of the unfortunate happenings in college football in certainly recent memory,” said Dunn.
“We certainly haven’t had that lost on us, and we’re excited to play the game and understand that this is a great opponent. They’ve got a bunch of wins under their belt from last year and they’re riding a streak. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again. Hopefully, it’s not a repeated situation of trying to close out a game like that. I hope we can step on the pedal and get after them, but they’re good so we’ll be ready to go.”
There aren’t any player holdovers from that 2016 team, but both Spencer Sanders and Trace Ford said they were on-hand for the loss*.
“I was in the stands,” said Sanders. “I watched the Hail Mary! right in front of me. [He] tapped it and the other guy ran it into the end zone. So I was like, you know, ‘S#!^.’”
Whether or not the way things ended adds any extra motivation to the players, it’s not something OSU coaches will soon forget. Gundy at the time regretted not pulling off his shirt and laying down on the field. He mentioned that strategy this week as well, but also stated the staff has made tweaks to how they defend a Hail Mary! play, valid or not.
“Anytime we lose, they’re painful,” said Gundy. “People ask all the time about certain games. I only wake up in the middle of the night thinking of games we didn’t win. I never — like, I haven’t woke up yet thinking about the Fiesta Bowl. But I’ve sure woke up thinking about the Big 12 Championship Game. Those games you never get rid of, and I don’t know why that is. I wish they’d come up with some type of medication that would make it go the other direction.
“We didn’t play good (against Central Michigan). We didn’t play good in that game. We didn’t put ourselves in position to where that didn’t matter. We just didn’t play good. And unfortunately, sometimes that happens. I wish I knew why, because if I did, I certainly would’ve solved it prior to. But we just didn’t play good that day.”