Gundy: National TV Should Help Cowboys

Mike Gundy is a first-year Division I coach, and he's learning on the job. But one thing Gundy doesn't believe in is using gimmicks to inspire his football team. Gundy believes his Oklahoma State Cowboys will have plenty of motivation for Saturday's homecoming game against the No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns (No. 1 in both the BCS rankings that were announced Monday and on Gundy's ballot for the USA Today Coaches' poll).

The Cowboys, 3-4 overall and 0-4 in Big 12 play, will be facing the Longhorns, 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big 12, for the first time since Texas's comeback victory last season. OSU played almost the perfect first half of football to take a 35-7 lead with just 1:21 remaining until halftime before Texas staged the biggest comeback in school history. The Longhorns scored 49 unanswered points to claim a 56-35 victory.

The Cowboys will be attempting to derail the Longhorns hopes for the school's first national championship since 1969. OSU has done its share of knocking off national championship contenders in the last five seasons (defeating OU in both 2000 and 2001 despite being huge underdogs).

Gundy, however, believes the best motivational tool for him and his coaching staff this week is three letters –– T-B-S! The Cowboys will be playing on national television for just the second time this season Saturday night when TBS brings its crew to Stillwater. Ron Thulin (play-by-play), Charles Davis (commentary) and Craig Sager (sideline) will broadcast the game to the entire nation.

"I think the greatest motivator for us this week is we're playing on national television. (The players) love to play on TV," Gundy said during his weekly media gathering on Monday. "I think they'd rather play (Texas) on TV. I really do. I just think that guys now days look forward to playing people like that (on TV) – (with an attitude of) this is the best team in the country and let's see what I can do against them."

OSU's only other telecast this season was the 23-3 victory over Florida Atlantic broadcast nationally by ESPN2 on Sept. 8.

The Cowboys are more than five touchdown underdogs to the Longhorns who are coming off impressive victories over Oklahoma (45-12), Colorado (42-17) and Texas Tech (51-17). Gundy previously coached at Baylor and Maryland when those teams were huge underdogs.

"When I was coaching the punt (team) at Maryland and facing Peter Warrick (of Florida State) do you know what our plan was?" Gundy asked. "You punt it and run down there and tackle him – if he had the ball or if he didn't have the ball. We'd take the penalty. It was only a five-yard penalty. We just punted it down there and drilled him. We did it every time, and gave up the five yards every time."

Gundy and the Maryland staff didn't want the All-American receiver/punt return to beat them. He didn't, but the Seminoles still defeated the Terrapins 49-10 in 1999 en route to the national championship.

"That's the only time I've been in a situation like that," Gundy said.

But Gundy is quick to point out that in 2001 the Cowboys were four touchdown underdogs to the No. 1-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, and rallied for the 16-13 victory in Norman.

However, the Cowboys won't be playing with quarterback Josh Fields or wide receiver Rashaun Woods when they line up against the Longhorns. Instead sophomore Al Pena could be the starting quarterback for the third game in a row. The same Al Pena who has 11 turnovers (9 interceptions and two fumbles) in nine quarters of play this season.

"He's not very fragile. He was in here Sunday on his own watching tape and studying. He's pretty mentally tough," Gundy said. "The throws he's made that have been errant throws haven't been bad decisions. The decision-making process is good. It's just the actual throws. I think the mental part of his grades are still pretty high."

Gundy would not address the status of quarterback Bobby Reid, who has missed the last two games because of three dislocated toes on his foot. Reid returned to practice last week but did not make the trip to Iowa State. Also hoping to return to action against the Longhorns are linebacker Lawrence Pinson (ankle sprain), offensive tackle Charlie Johnson (ankle) and safety Stephen James.

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