Big 12 report

Oklahoma State arrived at Big 12 driver’s seat from back seat

Updated: 2013-11-26T00:42:22Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Oklahoma State flew home from its Big 12 opener at West Virginia on Sept. 28 as a dazed and confused team.

The Cowboys, the preseason Big 12 favorites, had just fallen to a Mountaineers team that was coming off a 37-point loss. The game was loaded with Cowboys’ mistakes, and on that day West Virginia was good enough to take advantage for a 30-21 victory.

Two months and no losses later, Oklahoma State has resumed the preseason role in the catbird seat. If the Cowboys beat Oklahoma in Stillwater on Dec. 7, they will do no worse than share the Big 12 title and be the league’s automatic representative in a BCS bowl.

Heck, if enough teams lose, the Cowboys could sneak into the BCS title game picture. Stranger things have happened. In 2007, LSU was seventh in the BCS standing — where the Pokes stand today — heading into the conference title game weekend and became national champion.

All of this because Oklahoma State walloped Baylor 49-17 on Saturday, handing the Bears their first loss and knocking them from the national championship picture. Even coach Mike Gundy was surprised by the margin.

“We expected our team to play well,” Gundy said. “Baylor had been averaging (61.2) points per game, and if we could hold them to about half of that it would give us a chance.”

Gundy was thinking a 38-34 type of game.

“We performed at a higher level than we expected,” he said.

The defense was tremendous. It started with tackle James Castleman slapping the ball away from Baylor running back Shock Linwood at the Oklahoma State 1. The Cowboys recovered and went 99 yards for the game’s first score.

The Bears never got their powerful offense untracked, and Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf had the game of his life, passing for 370 yards and three touchdowns.

The trip to West Virginia seems like a distant memory.

“College football is a great teaching tool for life,” Gundy said. “We’d like to have won them all, and we prepare to win them all, but (at West Virginia) our plan wasn’t good. We made mistakes and we lost.

“But we came together and knew we had a lot to play for. After that game we really were in tournament play. We had to win this one to get to the next one.

Now comes the last one, against the Sooners, and a chance for a second Big 12 championship in three years.

Ranking the Big 12

Team (previous rank) Saturday’s opponent Comment
1. Oklahoma State (2)Open weekOne victory from Fiesta
2. Baylor (1)at TCUCan’t let loss linger
3. Oklahoma (3)Open weekStill in championship race
4. Texas (4)Texas Tech (Thurs.)Lost last two turkey day home games
5. Kansas State (5)at KansasSeeking fifth straight over Jayhawks
6. Texas Tech (6)at Texas (Thurs.)Looks to end four-game skid
7. TCU (7)BaylorThree straight either/or games for Frogs
8. West Virginia (8)Iowa StateEnding strong all that’s left
9. Iowa State (10)at West VirginiaFinally got a home victory
10. Kansas (9)Kansas StateKU wants competitive finish

Big 12 bowl projections

•  Fiesta: Oklahoma State

•  Cotton: Baylor

•  Alamo: Oklahoma

•  Buffalo Wild Wings: Texas

•  Holiday: Texas Tech

•  Texas: Kansas State

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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