This is not how J.W. Walsh, Kevin Peterson and David Glidden were planning to cap their Oklahoma State playing careers. The trio of OSU Cowboy seniors won 35 games over the past four seasons but their final game in the orange and black turned into the worst postseason bowl loss in school history when Ole Miss rolled to a 48-20 victory Friday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The 28-point loss is the worst in a bowl game since OSU’s 33-7 loss to Ohio State in the 2004 Alamo Bowl when the Cowboys were still coached by Les Miles.
The Cowboys finish the season with a three-game losing streak after winning the first 10 games to begin the season.
"That was a tough game for us. They're a good football team. We knew that before coming in," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy, who is now 6-4 as a head coach in bowl games. "And the snowball started downhill on us in the second quarter, and we couldn't slow them down from big plays on offense. And they started running trick plays, kind of like what we did last year in our bowl game. And, offensively, we couldn't establish a running game.
"And at that point, we became one-dimensional, which we talked about that before, against a good team that runs well. So it was tough for us to play catch-up. They could play three-man rush and drop eight in coverage being ahead by more than two scores and then three scores. And there's not a lot of places to throw the football."
Oklahoma State took an early 3-0 lead on Ben Grogan’s 26-yard field goal with just under five minutes left in the first quarter. But Ole Miss scored 24 unanswered points on its next four possessions – including three touchdown passes from Rebel quarterback Chad Kelly – to take a commanding lead.
The Rebels stretched their lead to 34-6 at halftime on a trick play with just two seconds left before halftime when offensive tackle Larmey Tunsil took a pitch from Kelly on a first-and-goal play from the 2-yard line and walked untouched into the end zone for the fourth Ole Miss touchdown of the first half.
The Cowboys never recovered and lost to Ole Miss in a bowl game for the third time in the past 11 years (suffering a 21-7 loss to the Rebels in the 2010 Cotton Bowl and losing 31-28 in the 2004 Cotton Bowl).
"So we hate that we didn't play as good as we wanted to," Gundy said. "We wish we could have played better. In looking at it, I probably over-practiced them. We probably worked too much and didn't give them a chance to catch their breath. We had watched tape. And, obviously, I had watched tape. And I had a lot of respect for Ole Miss, their athleticism, and then their football team. And in hindsight maybe we overworked a little bit.
"But I was proud of our team. We competed right until the end. I didn't see anybody that laid down. I told them that in the locker room. Sometimes life doesn't go the way you want it to. But we have to give them credit, their game plan, their coaches, their players. They made plays. We had a chance to stay in it early. We dropped a couple passes in the second quarter to convert some drives. We had a big pass. We had a callback. We had a hands to the face where we were going to be first down on the 25 or so. That hurt us at that time. It put us in a long, long yardage situation. And then we missed a couple of throws.
"So, we told our seniors that we appreciate everything they have done and that they will always be a big part of our team, Oklahoma State University. And the young guys, they will get a week or so off here and get back to school. And we'll get back to work in off-season, and start working as a coaching staff and recruiting and get ready to roll for next year."