By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer
Oklahoma State’s high hopes have been replaced with a frustrating life lesson.
The Cowboys entered the season expecting to contend a Big 12 title, but last week’s 41-13 loss to rival Oklahoma made reaching the championship game a long shot and left them reeling.
“When you put a lot into something like we do every week, specifically a game like Bedlam where there’s a lot of talk in state — most of the players know each other and so on and so forth … and you don’t come out with the result that you want, it’s going to be painful,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “And it should be.”
Oklahoma State (5-2, 4-2 Big 12) faces Texas Tech (3-5, 2-5) on Saturday in its final home game of the season. Gundy said the it’s time for the 21st-ranked Cowboys to dust themselves off.
“If people think you fold your tent based on that outcome, then 95% of the teams across the country would be folding their tent after week five,” he said. “Would make for a pretty ugly season from that point moving forward. There’s something to be said about life. We get up and do the very best we can. We compete every single day to try to improve ourselves. That’s the message that they get, and they buy into it.”
Gundy said he didn’t like Cowboys’ game plan against Oklahoma and took responsibility for approving it.
“The good news is that game is over with and now we’re prepared to come up with as good a plan as possible, based on the people we have available for the next game,” he said. “That’s what we do.”
Texas Tech coach Matt Wells looks at the Cowboys and sees plenty of talent, especially on defense. In conference play, Oklahoma State ranks third in total defense and scoring defense and first in sacks per game.
“They’re playing really, really good defense,” Wells said. “They have a big, athletic defensive line. Their linebackers can cover as well as tackle well in space.”
Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard hasn’t been the workhorse he was last year, when he ran for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns. He had just 44 yards rushing against Oklahoma, though he showed some of his old burst on a 29-yard run.
“I think Chuba’s one of the better backs in this league,” Wells said. “He catches the ball out of the backfield, I think he’s strong in protection. He is a home run threat and he’s got the ability to make you miss in space. My respect hasn’t changed for Chuba from last year.”
Oklahoma State freshman quarterback Shane Illingworth stepped in for Spencer Sanders against Oklahoma and went 5-for-21 with a touchdown.
Gundy said he expects him to bounce back and said poor protection against a talented Oklahoma defensive line had a lot to do with the numbers. Illingworth may be needed since Sanders took some hard hits against the Sooners.
“He’s quiet, he’s confident, he practices hard, he’s physical, he believes in himself,” Gundy said. “And he’s been awesome for us. I don’t see any issue with him at all.”
Texas Tech has used two quarterbacks this season. Alan Bowman was the starter at the beginning of the season, but Henry Colombi took over and led the Red Raiders to a win over West Virginia. Both played against Baylor, when Bowman led a rally in a 24-23 victory.
Oklahoma State will unveil a nine-foot statue of the late T. Boone Pickens immediately west of the stadium that bears his name on Saturday. Pickens’ $165 million gift to the school in 2005 was the single largest gift for athletics in NCAA history. He donated more than $600 million to the school for athletics and academics before he died in 2019.
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State’s star receiver, leads the Big 12 with 92.8 yards and 5.8 catches per game in Big 12 play. He is the active FBS leader with 3,168 yards receiving.
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