Five losses in a row had painted a dark picture over a program that right up to the start of that losing streak in the middle of this season had gone 46-12 in their previous 58 games over four and a half seasons. The record improves to 55-16 over the previous five and a half seasons.
Then the Cowboys pull out the performance on the field against the Sooners. And, more important, the mental toughness to not listen to naysayers and to push on, They out-toughed Oklahoma. They hit the Sooners in the mouth repeatedly in overtime, on both sides of the ball, to win 38-35 in overtime.
Fans are happy, players are feeling much better about themselves and Gundy is taking selfies with fans, with the media, with anybody that has a cell phone and supports Oklahoma State football.
The stories in the media go from how super booster Boone Pickens won't say whether he supports Gundy or not as coach, from athletic director Mike Holder busting his coach for who he wants to schedule, to Mike Gundy saying why don't we all get along. The getting along part is winning.
Season ticket sales that were down this season should go up for 2015 with a strong returning team and a great schedule of seven home games.
Now the Cowboys have posted a two-game winning streak with Friday's 30-22 Cactus Bowl win over Pac-12 member Washington. A good win and one of only two bowl wins for the beleaguered Big 12. The conference of "One True Champion" saw Baylor get caught from behind in the Cotton Bowl, Kansas State held at bay by UCLA, West Virginia get out-offensed by Texas A&M, and Oklahoma and Texas just flat get battered and bruised by Clemson and Arkansas, respectively.
TCU, not the champion but the best team in the Big 12, hammered Mississippi and the Cowboys held off the Huskies for the only good for the conference.
Over the past five seasons Oklahoma State is 48-17 overall. That is second best in the Big 12 only to Oklahoma, just ahead of the Cowboys at 51-13, and Baylor right behind at 47-18. Kansas State is 44-20 and Texas is 36-27 over the past five Big 12 seasons.
"The last two wins have meant a lot for this team and this school," Gundy said after the Cactus Bowl win on Friday night. "Like Castleman and Des (Roland) have been around here when we've won a lot of games. They've been involved (in seasons) with 10 wins, 12 wins, 11 wins, whatever.
"We live in a society where everybody thinks what have you done for me lately? When you don't play very well everybody gets kind of a sour taste in their mouth. They got rid of it now and it's a good time for us to start building, get on the recruiting trail, and continue to develop who we are and upgrade what we do and get Oklahoma State back to where we win the Big 12 Championship."
Gundy has shown he is in for the long haul. He is rejuvenated and really sees a plan in his head for going forward. A fan base that just weeks ago were picturing and, in some cases, pushing for a number of changes on the coaching staff now sees a staff that can make the Cowboys better for the future.
In some cases, OSU may need to be concerned with other schools trying to hire a staff member away. I can tell you there has already been one assistant that another school tried to hire that has stayed with the Cowboys.
The young players that were a part of the late season turn are excited.
"I have more experience and I've learned a lot and my technique is really a lot better," true freshman starting cornerback Ramon Richards said. "I'm really excited about the future."
The staff now needs to hit the road and finish off a strong recruiting class that so far is not highly ranked with some de-commitments bringing that recruiting ranking down for whatever it is worth. You might be happier down the stretch as I think Oklahoma State will get some premium recruits that will have clout with the recruiting websites.
Either way, the Cowboys have finished the season on a big high. There have been other teams that have done that in the past only to blow the opportunity. OSU has shown in the past that they know how to take momentum from the end of one season to the next. If they can do that again, then I could see the Cowboys picked behind TCU, who returns nine starters on offense and eight on defense, as preseason second in the Big 12. Baylor will be in contention too but they will need to break in a new starting quarterback.
Welcome back Cowboys. After spending about half a season in Big 12 purgatory, it's nice to see you back in the upper echelon.