The word was that when Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy trotted out to the middle of the field after the game to shake hands with TCU head coach Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs boss told Gundy that was the worst butt kicking he'd had handed to him.
History bore that out as Oklahoma State delivered the 31-6 loss to TCU, and it was the worst loss at home in the 17 years that Patterson has very successfully been in Fort Worth leading that school to 14 bowl games, 13 winning seasons, and 148 wins overall. This game was the 200th game for Patterson as head coach at TCU.
It was the 152nd game for Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State and it was also his 103rd win. Gundy won his 100th at home against West Virginia and he and his team haven't stopped there.
In fact, you could call this the Cowboys most complete win of the season, their best performance, and you can now call the Cowboys a legitimate College Football Playoff contender, maybe even more of a contender than they were at this stage last year when the were 10-1 but coming off a butt kicking of a loss at home to Baylor. The record at 9-2 is not as good but then if you believe that Oklahoma State really won that game the MAC officials blundered away from them against Central Michigan then the Cowboys are 10-1.
Patterson doesn't care about the Cowboys record or much of anything other than what he saw today. He is a tell it like it is guy, and his postgame comment said it all.
"It's simple. I think you have to give coach Gundy and his group credit. They kicked our butts," Patterson said. "You've got to be able to run the football when you get inside the 5, and you've got to tackle. It's been a long time in the 19 years I've been here where we got our butts kicked at home. That was one of them."
On the other side of Amon Carter Stadium, Gundy congratulated his team, telling them that it had been awhile, since before most of them had arrived in Stillwater, that Oklahoma State pushed a good football team around like that. It had been some time since they finished a team off with running backs running over defenders and just simply exerting their will to win on the opponent. It felt good.
It was also a landmark game for the Cowboys defense that has been good at times, good in a quarter or a half, good in a series, good at taking away the ball, and helping to win games but really not dominating a game. This defensive effort was dominant. There were two interceptions in the second half, there were three fourth-down stops, including a huge momentum stop to end the first half.
“First, I will say this was the best defensive effort game plan, tackling against some tricky, skilled players that I’ve seen for a very long time," Gundy said of a defense that allowed 343 yards, but only 145 yards rushing. "So we had one turnover, and TCU had two picks, we rushed the turnover and tackled well in space and that really sums up what happened.
"We were throwing the ball okay, not great, but TCU was playing back pretty far in the pass especially with James [Washington]. Luckily, we caught the ball well along with tremendous defensive play. (We were) 9-for-16 in third downs, and that was because we weren’t in so many third-and-longs. Running the ball effectively allowed us to get third-and-short have a decent chance to convert.
“I’m very proud of our running backs and the way they are running," Gundy continued. "Our offensive line play, I always try to tell them without watching the tape, I think it was pretty good. We didn’t turn as many guys loose, and I think we could’ve created running lanes, and our punter did excellent today.”
The Cowboys running backs had 311 yards of the 334 yards total rushing. For the first time since Bedlam in 2011 there were two 100-plus yard running backs in Chris Carson with 146 yards and a touchdown and freshman Justice Hill with 154 yards. Mason Rudolph was slow to lock in but finished with 17-of-34 passing for 207 yards and a touchdown. Rudolph ran for two scores himself.
It was impressive and it had to send a message. That is the kind of game, good in all three areas, dominant against a good opponent and on the road, that gets the attention of the CFP committee.
Oklahoma State can do nothing about that or what happens to teams in the way and around them, but the turkey will taste good for the Cowboys. The Cowobys know that on Dec. 3 in Norman they will play for a Big 12 Championship. No matter what happens to OU at West Virginia, Oklahoma will know that they have a real challenge awaiting them. Oklahoma State is playing its best football right now.