No. 13 Oklahoma St. controls own destiny, can win Big 12
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) The players at No. 13 Oklahoma State know one thing: They don't have to look for help to wrap up a special season.
After escaping with a 45-44 victory over Texas Tech over the weekend, the Cowboys needs to win Saturday at TCU to set up a Bedlam showdown with No. 8 Oklahoma on Dec. 3 for the Big 12 championship.
The Cowboys (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) know that they need to focus on the next game and not look ahead to the looming contest with their intra-state rivals, especially on the road against a strong opponent in TCU (5-4, 3-3). The Horned Frogs are coming off a bye week that followed a dominating 62-22 win on Nov. 5 over then-No. 17 Baylor, the only Big 12 team that has beaten Oklahoma State (35-24 back on Sept. 24).
''Each week I talk to them about the importance of focus, and fortunately, we've had big wins, and whether you have a big win or you have a loss you're not happy with, you have to re-focus on Sunday,'' said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. ''We're not good enough to even look past tomorrow's practice, and TCU, in my opinion, is a considerably different team than they were even three weeks ago.''
The players appear to be buying into the notion that they cannot look past TCU.
''It is hard, but right now, we just focus on TCU and we'll be ready for Bedlam next week,'' said defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, who is tied for sixth in the Big 12 in both sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (9.0). ''Don't watch ESPN, the AP polls, the college polls and all that, stay off of Twitter. It's hard, but to be focused, that's what you have to do.''
With the Sooners ranked eighth, West Virginia No. 10 and the Cowboys at No. 13, there is a lot of speculation that no matter who emerges as the Big 12 champion, they will be shut out of the College Football Playoff.
''I can't control that,'' said junior quarterback Mason Rudolph, who ranks fifth in the nation with 3,384 passing yards and is 12th with 24 touchdown tosses. ''We control our own destiny and regardless of our ranking, we know what's at stake and what we can accomplish, so we're really trying to block that out and look forward.''
Gundy actually considers his team 9-1, discounting the Cowboys' controversial 30-27 defeat to Central Michigan back on Sept. 10, when the Chippewas scored a touchdown on a Hail Mary pass during a final, untimed play that officials later admitted should never have been awarded.
''Nobody will ever convince me we lost that game,'' Gundy said.
Gundy still has faith that the committee would alter its perception of the result based on how the game ended, but also acknowledged he doesn't have the stomach to engage in the type of politicking that might be necessary to get his team into the playoff if it should win the next two games.
''When you get into administrative politics, I'd just as soon jump off a building than deal with people like that,'' Gundy said. ''I haven't thought about it a lot because we have to play these next two games. And at that point, somebody can make a decision on that. They're supposed to be deciding on who they think the best teams are - that's what they say, right? I mean, I never watch the show. I'd rather watch `SpongeBob' than watch or listen to his comments, to be honest with you.''