Four years defined by success came to an end marked by bitter defeat.
"(These losses) are hard now because they've had so much success," OSU coach Mike Gundy said. "But these guys are trained to understand adversity will make them better. They know that. It will make them better for the rest of their lives."
For quarterback Clint Chelf — who battled through a career filled with peaks and valleys to ultimately fumble on the final drive that could have lifted the Cowboys the victory — the loss was especially hard to swallow.
"Obviously it's tough," Chelf said. "We had two opportunities to do that and came up short both times.
"But looking back on it, I wouldn't change it for the world."
The same goes for a class of defensive players who helped change the culture of defense at Oklahoma State.
Although the players made their disappointment clear, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer appeared to be the most hurt after the game.
"They played hard, man those guys," Spencer said. "That's what just rips your guts out. Those kids lay it on the line for each other, that's why I hurt so bad. It's a shame.
"I'm proud of them, I hugged their neck in the locker room and I told them they have a lot to be proud of."
Despite the tough ending, the impact the players had on the program is undeniable.
"Twenty-eight seniors in all. We came up in the program together," linebacker Caleb Lavey said. "We focused on the goal we wanted to do. We made it happen for the most part."
And given their success, Lavey hopes these seniors will leave a legacy that can continue to fuel the growth of the OSU program. "These seniors, they've really set a standard with leadership, with work," Lavey said.
"In my opinion, there's only one way to go, and that's up."