When Bobby Reid took the opening snap in the 2006 Independence Bowl, it started a streak that has yet to stop.
Oklahoma State has played in 17 straight bowl games. It’s the sixth longest bowl streak in the country, trailing only Georgia (26), Oklahoma (24), Wisconsin (21), Alabama (19) and Clemson (18). This streak Mike Gundy has built has become part of the identity of OSU football — no matter the challenges of a season, the Cowboys find a way to win enough games to get to play an extra one.
Although Oklahoma State’s game against Iowa State on Saturday in Ames is just the fourth game the Cowboys will play this year, it seems like it could be a big one in regards to keeping this streak alive. After gambling investigations decimated the Cyclones before the season started, Iowa State has lost two of three to start the year, including a game against Ohio this past weekend. If OSU can’t beat the Cyclones, it’s going to be hard to project four more wins on the Cowboys’ schedule to keep the streak alive.
To put in perspective how long this streak has rolled on, Reid, Zac Robinson, Brandon Weeden, Clint Chelf, Mason Rudolph, Taylor Cornelius, Dru Brown, Spencer Sanders and Garret Rangel have all started bowl games at quarterback for OSU in that stretch. Rangel was three years from kindergarten in 2006.
|2009||Cotton||Ole Miss||L, 21-7|
|2012||Heart of Dallas||Purdue||W, 58-14|
|2015||Sugar||Ole Miss||L, 48-20|
|2017||Camping World||Virginia Tech||W, 30-21|
|2019||Texas||Texas A&M||L, 24-21|
|2021||Fiesta||Notre Dame||W, 37-35|
|2022||Guaranteed Rate||Wisconsin||L, 24-17|
There have been close shaves to the streak ending before.
In 2014, it took an immaculate Bedlam win in Norman to send the Cowboys to the Cactus Bowl, springboarding the Rudolph era. The Bedlam save is most notable for Tyreek Hill’s 92-yard, last-minute punt return to set up overtime, but Mike Gundy and Co. decided to burn Rudolph’s redshirt the game before, a 49-28 loss to Baylor in Waco. It went from a doomed season to setting up promise moving forward.
The Cowboys overcame a 1-2 start in 2007 to reach bowl eligibility and beat Indiana in the Insight Bowl. OSU lost to Georgia to start the season before falling to Troy in Game 3 — Troy, a Sun Belt team from Alabama. That was back when OSU played four nonconference games, picking up wins against Florida Atlantic and Sam Houston. Four of the Cowboys’ Big 12 games that year were decided by one score. OSU went 2-2 in those games with wins against Texas Tech and Kansas State and losses to Texas A&M and Texas.
The Taylor Cornelius-led Cowboys of 2018 also played in a ton of close games, but the Cowboys got their sixth win with one game to spare. OSU’s final five regular season games that year were decided by one score, with OSU going 2-3 in those games with gigantic wins against Texas and West Virginia to set up a Liberty Bowl meeting with Missouri.
If someone looks back at this streak 10 years from now, this Iowa State game might seem inconsequential in the streak’s history based off how early in the year it is, but with both of these teams struggling offensively, it feels like the game will be tight.
Oklahoma State ranks 13th in the Big 12 in scoring offense at 20.3 points per game. That’s ahead of only Iowa State at 16.7 points per game. However, the Cyclones rank third in the league is scoring defense, giving up just 13 points a game. OSU ranks seventh at 20.3 points a game.
Here is the remainder of OSU’s schedule after Iowa State with each team’s points per game through the opening three weeks:
Kansas State — 38
Kansas — 37.7
at West Virginia — 29.3
Cincinnati — 39
Oklahoma — 55.7
at UCF — 40.7
at Houston — 23.7
BYU — 31
Those point totals are obviously boosted some in that Big 12 teams, for the most part, have been playing lesser competition through the opening three weeks of the year. However, Oklahoma State hasn’t eclipsed 30 points in a game in 333 days — the Cowboys’ Oct. 22 win against Texas.
So, it becomes a matter of wondering whether the Cowboys can outscore those teams. At this point that seems unlikely against teams like Kansas State, Kansas, Oklahoma and UCF. That would leave games against Iowa State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU as the swing games for bowl eligibility, with OSU needing to win four of those five games. It’s college football, weird things happen all the time, but on paper, that’s how I see it here on Sept. 19.
This is all incredibly hypothetical this early in the year and could be an overreaction to the Cowboys’ Saturday loss to South Alabama. There’s a ton of season to be played, but the fact remains that if OSU returns from Ames at 2-2, the bowl streak could be in as much jeopardy as it has ever been.
The post Saturday’s Game Feels Big for Oklahoma State’s Bowl Streak first appeared on Pistols Firing.