There isn’t a one-size-fits-all mold to how the Cowboys are using past games against the Bears as motivation for Saturday — everyone is different.
When No. 9 Oklahoma State kicks off against No. 16 Baylor on Saturday afternoon, there will be no shortage of emotional baggage among the team. The Cowboys had multiple goal-line attempts to seal a dramatic comeback win against the Bears at last year’s Big 12 Championship. Each came up painfully short.
That memory affects all of the returning Cowboys, but each motivates himself in a different way.
For veteran defensive end Brock Martin, it’s all about the here and now. He chooses to approach the conference opener like every game, with blinders on.
“What is the fourth time this the fourth time it’s been asked?” said Martin about the Arlington question. “Honestly, it doesn’t [stick in his mind]. I try not to let things in the past that are negative and/or positive motivate me to be better now. I just focus on myself and my family and the reason why I do this which is that I love football. … That is my motivation to come out here every day.”
Running back Dominic Richards was stuck watching that final drive from the sideline which probably leads to his approach being a little different.
“We use it to fuel us for sure,” said Richardson of the title game loss.
Richardson was supposed to be in during the Cowboys’ first fourth-quarter, goal-line bust before his cleat fell off. Due to the Cowboys going turbo, OSU’s term for their up-tempo offense, Richardson wasn’t able to sub back in. Richardson told Pistols Firing that he thinks about that game all the time.
Even with the added layer of being a Waco native, cornerback Korie Black says he tries to join Martin with the more stoic approach.
“I try to keep it just like any other game,” said Black. “Just focus and play like any other game. Don’t try to make it too big of a game or anything like that. Just treat it like it were any other game.”
Sophomore wide receiver John Paul Richardson comes in somewhere in the middle.
“Obviously, it sucked,” said Richardson. “You never want to lose in that fashion or whatever, but at the end of the day it’s just a game and we were able to learn a lot from that game. It shouldn’t have come down to the last play like that.
“But we’ve been watching the film, and we’re able to grow as a team and just take that game kind of like a grain of salt and move on and focus on the next ball game.”
Martin downplayed the effects of Arlington on his own psyche, but he doesn’t try to dictate how his teammates find their fire.
“Everybody’s different,” Martin said. “Some people like thinking about stuff in the past. I’m just not one of them, personally. Some people are just motivated differently.”
Regardless of what happened last season and how each Cowboys decides to light his own fire, the game in Waco on Saturday will have huge implications on whether the Cowboys can get back to Arlington.
The Cowboys and Bears are the only two teams of the preseason Top 4 still without a Big 12 loss. If OSU can exact revenge on Baylor this weekend, it will not only start off conference schedule with a clear path to the title game, it will go a long way toward putting the Pokes in the driver’s seat.
Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Waco.