HOUSTON — Mike Gundy is oh so close to making the Big 12 title game for the second time in three seasons.
Oklahoma State beat Houston 43-30 on Saturday at TDECU Stadium. With a win against BYU next week and some other realistic results breaking the Cowboys’ way, OSU would be back in Arlington to compete for a conference crown. Here are the top five quotes from Mike Gundy after Saturday’s game.
‘This Is a Good Culture Win’
If you would’ve squinted while watching the beginning of this game, you might’ve thought it was a replay of OSU’s 45-3 loss to UCF last week. The Cowboys were down 14-3 at the end of the first quarter to a team that has only two conference wins.
Unlike last week, the Cowboys were able to regain control of things — and the heavens didn’t open up. Gundy said the team finding a way Saturday has to do with culture.
“Felt a lot like [last week],” Gundy said. “That’s why I told them this is a good culture win. For a quarter and a half, if it would’ve started raining heavy, it would’ve felt just like last week. They kept playing.”
On Presley’s Big Day
Brennan Presley set new career highs in receptions and receiving yards Saturday, hauling in 15 of his 19 targets for 189 yards.
He was all over the place, and it was the type of performance OSU fans had envisioned for Presley in his senior season. The performance moved him to No. 10 on OSU’s career receiving list, and he was just one catch shy on Saturday for the program record for receptions in a game that was set back in 1949 by Alex Loyd. But he’ll have to settle for second on that list for now, and there is a 10-way tie for third in games from Justin Blackmon (four times), Josh Stewart (two times), Josh Cooper, Adarius Bowman, Rashaun Woods and Dez Bryant.
“We’re doing a lot of things with [Presley] to try to get him the ball,” Gundy said. “You can see that. We’re moving him all the time. Doesn’t guarantee it, though. As I’ve shared with you before, it’s difficult to always get a ball to a wideout. You can get it to a back easy. It’s not always easy to get it to a wideout if the defense doesn’t want you to get it to him. Our offense did a good job in moving him around, doing some different things to get him freed up a little bit. And then he made a number of really tough catches today in traffic.
“We always want to get him the ball. That’s not a secret. It’s not always easy to get it to him. But when they’re playing heavy run and running safeties down and jumping in the box, that will open up more for him on the perimeter.”
Running Success in the Second Half
Ollie Gordon ran for 38 yards in the first half as teams continue to reallocate bodies into the box to try to slow him down. But Gordon’s containment was only temporary, as he went for 126 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
As a team, the Cowboys ran for just 21 yards in the first half and 132 in the second. They averaged 1.6 yards per carry in the first and 6 yards a carry in the second. What changed?
“We went to a couple different schemes that we didn’t use as much in the first half,” Gundy said. “They still had an extra guy in the box. There’s a couple schemes you can use to try to handle that if you guess where that extra guy is gonna be, whether he’s gonna be outside or inside. It’s a cat-and-mouse game, and I think Kasey (Dunn) guessed right most of the second half, which is difficult to do.”
Cowboys’ Goal Is to Win Big 12
OSU is still alive in the Big 12 title race.
As of writing, a win alone next week wouldn’t guarantee the Cowboys a second trip to Arlington in the past three seasons, but it gives them a pretty high chance. And after a rough start against Houston, the Cowboys finding a way on the road was obviously huge for this team obtaining its goal.
“Every game is important no matter the situation,” Gundy said. “That’s not coach’s talk. In our culture, the players have to understand that we have an obligation to coach every week. They have an obligation to prepare and play every week. That’s what we all signed up for. So no matter what the situation is, our organization is obligated to do that. That’s what we do — no matter the circumstances.
“But when you get toward the end, I’m guessing the other teams across the country in college football, they all train to get to the end and have a chance to play for something big as you move forward. We do the same. Our goal when we start the season has always been to find a way to win a conference championship. That’s what our goal is. We feel like if we do that, it gives us a chance to get into postseason play. Doesn’t guarantee it, but it gives us a good chance. If we don’t win the conference, it’s going to be pretty rare to get into extra postseason play.”
A Funny Alex Hale Story
Alex Hale went 3-for-3 on field goals Saturday, but he almost had one more.
OSU was driving late with a 36-30 lead. A field goal wasn’t a bad thing at that time because it would’ve made it a two-score game with limited time left. Gordon ended up scoring on the drive, but here is a funny story Gundy told on trying to find Hale to get his preferences on ball placement.
“I said, ‘Somebody find the kicker so I can ask him where he wants the ball,’” Gundy said. “We’ve had that discussion but sometimes he’ll say, ‘Well, I’m not sure, just depends on how far it is.’ So, I said OK.
“They couldn’t find him, and I said, ‘Well, we got two more plays until its third down and we have to get the ball located. I need somebody to find the kicker so I can ask him where he wants the ball.’ Somebody got him, and he comes walking up like we’re at brunch on Sunday. He’s just calm and says, ‘You looking for me, Coach?’ I said, ‘Hell yeah I’m looking for you. I’ve been looking for you for 35 seconds. Where do you want the ball?’ And he said, ‘What do you mean?’ And I said, ‘We’re going to set this thing up to kick a field goal if we don’t score. We can run it to the right, we can run it to the left or we can run it up the middle. And we can tell Ollie don’t cut one way or the other. Go straight ahead. What do you want?’ He goes, ‘The middle’s fine, Coach.’ I said, ‘OK, the middle it is.’”