Gundy, Cowboys Walk Away As Winners

Mike Gundy had just finished his media work Saturday, having completed segments for his television coaches show and talking on the radio locker room show. Gundy was dressed to the nines in a sharp sports coat, slacks, and an orange paisley tie. Gundy was asked for an autograph by a family wearing orange as he walked to the OSU police vehicle that would carry him back to Stillwater.

Gundy's Cowboys had just defeated Kansas State 24-14 on a sun-splashed afternoon in Manhattan, Kan., although the victory was not without its mistakes.

But following a week that had the Cowboys popular and outstanding wide receiver Justin Blackmon being arrested for an underage DUI in Texas at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday while driving home from the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants Monday night football game and forcing Gundy to suspend him for a game, it was a very welcome result.

Gundy was surprised to hear after the game that the Cowboys had broken another road drought as this was Oklahoma State's first win in Manhattan since Gundy quarterbacked the Cowboys to a 45-27 win in 1988 that had Barry Sanders running for more than 300 yards.

A smile crept across Gundy's face but it was because he was able to stand in front of his team in the smallish visitors locker room at Bill Snyder Family Stadium and tell them that they proved that the OSU football program is bigger than any one player or coach. That without Blackmon the defense stepped up and held K-State to 111 yards rushing, 101 of that from Daniel Thomas on 29 carries. Thomas averaged just 3.5-yards a carry.

The Wildcats totaled just 289 total yards and the defense picked off three passes, including Johnny Thomas' pick that he returned 26 yards for the touchdown.

"It was a great run," said Gundy of the Thomas pick and return for a score. "In the back of my mind I had a thought that he could score for us because he is a return guy. When he cuts back you don't like to see that on offense because offensive linemen aren't good at very good at trying to tackle a guy like that coming across the field."

"I figured if I picked the ball then I needed to do something amazing with it," said Thomas. "I felt a return guy and I had my blockers in front of me and I was in the end zone."

On offense, Gundy asked his quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Kendall Hunter, the offensive line, and some young and untested or older but less used receivers to step up, and they did. There were way too many unfinished drives, but when plays needed to be made they were.

"Kendall gave us really tough running because there were times their safety was so far down that Kendall had to make a move in the backfield," said Gundy.

"Now the flip of that is that if you do break it then you get a big play and his runs allowed us to throw over the top. I thought the offensive line played well and Isaiah (Anderson) made a big play for us and Michael Harrison caught that fade for the touchdown."

Josh Cooper played the second half with a badly bruised midsection and caught a touchdown pass. Michael Harrison caught a first half fade from Weeden for a score just a few weeks after surgery on his broken finger. Bo Bowling had a career-high eight catches for 92 yards, many when Weeden was scrambling and looking for a target.

"Bo Bowling continues to show signs of being a competitor and was making plays at crucial times," said Gundy.

"I knew I was in a position to step up and I felt like I did," said Bowling. "I wanted the ball and I was able to work around and get where Brandon could see me. They were dropping back in the zone and most of the day I was still able to get open. This means a lot because I had to battle back (from past problems) and I still am battling."

"The guys had fought and played a really good second half. The defense may have played as good a game as they had all year and I wanted them to be able to enjoy a victory," summed up Gundy.

"After it was over, it was a good feeling because of all the circumstances this week. Hopefully, this proves to our players that this team is bigger than any player or coach. No one is bigger than the team and we had a lot of guys step up and make plays. I could go on and on about them ... Johnny (Thomas) and Markelle (Martin). I thought Andrew (McGee) played really physical and Broderick (Brown) too. (Devin) Hedgepeth played good and Shaun Lewis played well."

Oklahoma State is 7-1 and looking strong for at least a few more wins the rest of the season as there isn't a game left on the schedule that can't be won.

Yes, this Cowboys football team is gradually erasing history and at the same time they are making history, and they will continue doing it next week at home against Baylor.

Besides proclaiming to the group of 69 players that made this road trip that the program can survive missing any player or coach, Gundy was able to proclaim that Blackmon is back on the team. The standout wide receiver was back in Stillwater, but he might have heard the reaction in the locker room all the way from K-State.

There were a lot of lessons learned this week but now it is time to bring everybody back together for the Bears, the 7-2 Baylor Bears winners over Texas in Austin on Saturday, and the rest of the season.

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