Cowboys, Tigers Set For ESPN2

The Big 12 Conference office had already informed Oklahoma State and Missouri before Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy's Sunday teleconference with beat reporters that the battle of Big 12 unbeatens would be aired at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2.

Once the teleconference started you could sense in Gundy's voice that he was eager to get back to whatever he was doing in the way of preparing a game plan for his team to compete with a Tigers team that is now ranked as high as number two (USA Today/Coaches Poll) in the country.

Fresh off a 56-28 win over Texas A&M the night before, there was little talk by Gundy, at least in detail, of what happened against the Aggies.

"Nothing surprised me on the video (from the A&M game)," Gundy said.

Most of the questions centered on Dez Bryant and his four-touchdown performance in the contest. Oklahoma State sports information is readying a promotion campaign for several of the Cowboy performers, including Bryant.

But Dez is already gaining national publicity as his 78-yard punt return was number one on ESPN Sports Center's Top 10 Plays. Bryant got another helmet sticker from the College Football Final crew and he was mentioned on nearly every late college recap show around. Gundy said Bryant still has improvement to make.

"The guy makes some plays and needs to get better in all areas," said Gundy. "He did a nice job on special teams and returns. He has to become a better blocker and more disciplined route runner."

Gundy added that he does not have to keep Bryant's ego in check. As we saw and heard on the postgame locker room show on the Cowboy Radio Network, Bryant does appreciate his teammates.

"Dez is a team guy and wants the team to do well," said Gundy. "He understands other guys contribute to his success."

Texas A&M mixed up its front seven on defense and seemed to play a lot of high safety cover two on the back end. It was different than what the Cowboys were expecting, but Gundy isn't convinced too many teams will watch the tape and follow suit.

He did address the offensive line and the second consecutive game the offense has played without All-Big 12 tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Gundy repeated his normal response that Pettigrew, who was suited up and warmed up vigorously with the offense, was day-to-day in preparing for Missouri.

"I don't think there is any question that when he is not playing you are going to miss him," said Gundy in a massive understatement. "The two guys that filled in for him played adequate, but we're talking about missing a guy that is first-round draft pick."

As for the Aggies and the schemes used by Texas A&M defensive coordinator Joe Kines, Gundy admitted they had something to do with the sluggish offense in the first half but he wasn't sure they would see them again.

"I'm not sure other teams will do what they do," added Gundy. "They (offensive line) were average in the first half and good in the second half. I think they would have liked to have performed better. We get them ready to go and certainly demand that they perform at a high level, but in a 12-game season you are not going to perform like you want to every game. There are ups and downs throughout the season."

The week ahead should be interesting as last week Oklahoma State fans were confident and a happy lot. The fresh top 25 ranking had everybody feeling good and complimenting the players and the program. The compliments will be there again this week, but so will the skeptics as most so called experts will be on the second-ranked Mizzou Tigers' bandwagon.

"It is not going to change our approach as a staff and certainly shouldn't change the players approach," explained Gundy. "Hard work and preparation, good work habits are what we will do and then turn it loose at Missouri and play hard. What they hear and see in public, they (players) need to keep it in check and just go play."

The Gundy theory means there should be no lack of motivation, especially in preparing for a huge game in a battle of unbeatens.

"I think all games are fun," said Gundy. "You practice about 330 days out of the year to play 14 games, and you should take advantage of all of them."

This will be a big challenge but that is also why you play football.

"Statistically it would be hard to say they are not as good as any offense in the country," explained Gundy. "Oklahoma and Texas Tech have done a lot on offense but from what little I have seen of Missouri they would be able to argue they are as good as anybody in the country."

It will be a great game for television as the two of the top three scoring offenses in the nation go at it next Saturday at 7 p.m. in Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo.

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