It's Time To Win A Game

STILLWATER - The Cowboys visit to Ames, Iowa this Saturday is magnified as first-year head coach Mike Gundy finds his team in the midst of a three-game losing streak. The Cowboys will then return home for back-to-back home games against Big 12 South unbeatens Texas and Texas Tech. No coach says a game can't be won, but common logic - and a dose of realism - signals that OSU needs a win Saturday to prevent this losing skid from reaching six in a row when the Red Raiders go home on Nov. 12.

Gundy says the attitude of his team remains strong, and the players speaking Monday at the weekly news conference in Stillwater certainly were positive. This week's game and a win will be critical in keeping that attitude up.

"I have a vision of us winning the football game," said Gundy. "We have a vision when we put in the plan and we practice today, tomorrow, Wednesday, and we review Thursday and we travel of how to win the football game. Our football team is in great shape mentally. They are working hard. I look into their eyes in team meetings, we had a team meeting this morning, everybody is on time, everybody understood what happened. Texas A&M is behind us now, and we are looking forward to Iowa State. You have to understand that these guys understand where we are as a team. They want to win. I want to win. It will come and we have to continue to work hard, find the problem, find the solution, execute it during the week, take it into consideration when you make a game plan on both sides of the ball, and then go play Saturday."

"We went down and had a great workout this morning (in the weightroom), and the attitude is changing slowly but surely," said linebacker Jamar Ransom. "We have to get everybody on the same page and get back to work twice as hard and get this turned around."

That has been easier said than done. But against Iowa State there are positives to take into consideration in the game plan. The Cyclones are reeling too, after losing two of their last three game in overtime with a home loss to Baylor by 10 points sandwiched in the middle. They too have to be dealing with some doubts. The two offenses have been close in offensive production (ISU averages 330 yards a game to OSU averaging 306 yards). Iowa State has been stout against the run, but is 11th in the Big 12 in pass defense. They have turned the ball over seven times in the past two weeks in the red zone. This is a team that OSU beat 36-7 a year ago. The opportunity is not easy, but it is there for a legitimate challenge.

One major step toward bringing home a win would be a good start. In Big 12 play OSU gave up a 74-yard touchdown run to Colorado's Hugh Charles on the first play from scrimmage. Against Missouri, OSU fell behind 31-9 in the third quarter, and at A&M the Cowboys fell behind 20-0 in the first quarter only to fight back before halftime and then get put away by turnovers and the A&M offense in the second half. An early lead, possibly sparked by an early turnover forced by the defense, would be nice.

"I think it would be a big difference," said Ransom. "We all feed off of each other and I think it would be real good. I think that is something we need to key on - making something good happen early. It would be a real big deal for us to get a takewaway or the offense drive it 80 yards. That would be a real key for us, something to drive the momentum."

"We have to do our part on defense if we go out first and set the tempo," said senior cornerback Daniel McLemore, who is also ninth in the nation in kickoff returns after another strong performance Saturday. "We have to establish the momentum to go help the offense make something happen."

The Cowboys should have middle linebacker Lawrence Pinson back from his ankle injury against Missouri. Pinson suited up and tried to go at Texas A&M but simply couldn't. He is expected to be ready for Iowa State.

On the other side of the ball, the guessing game has already started on whether redshirt freshman starting quarterback Bobby Reid will be back from his foot injury against Missouri. Gundy said more Monday that at any time last week when he announced that Reid was no longer in a protective boot. But Reid is still doubtful and that means backup Al Pena, who was 13 of 32 for 194 yards with four interceptions and one touchdown, along with being sacked three times, will likely guide the Cowboy offense. Gundy said he hopes Pena learned from the start against the Aggies.

"I teased Al this morning," Gundy said about his interceptions at A&M. "Al has done a great job of being composed and handling things and accepting responsibility. Sometimes the best pass that he can throw, with who he is as a football player right now with the inexperience and the fact that he doesn't have the ability to take off and run like some of these guys, is to throw it away. He has to learn that, and that is the hardest thing for a player that hasn't had a lot of experience to learn."

"I got a chance to look at the film on Sunday and there were some good things. Of course, I'd like to take back those turnovers, but other than that it was all right," said Pena. "There are plays that shouldn't have been made and those can be corrected right away."

Pena said he is eager to go again if Reid can't play, which is a strong possibility. He said he would double up his time in the offensive meeting room watching video.

Pena said it's not hard for him to envision Oklahoma State winning on Saturday. If everybody - offense, defense, special teams, players, coaches, everybody - can come up with the same vision, one without turnovers and one that features a fast start for the Cowboys then maybe the trip to Iowa State can have a happy ending, because the next two at home look like Halloween, not the holiday but the movie. Jason is wearing burnt orange and red and black.

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