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With trip to title game in reach, Cowboys must remain focussed
By Mitch Light
There were plenty of teams that posted more significant wins, but you can make a strong case that no team was as impressive as Oklahoma State last weekend. Six days after climbing to No. 3 in the BCS standings, the Cowboys dismantled a solid Baylor team with stunning ease. The Pokes led 21–0 after one quarter, 35–0 at the half and 49–3 through three quarters en route to a 59–24 victory.
Mike Gundy’s team proved — for at least one week — that it will be able to handle the pressures that come along with a lofty ranking in the BCS standings. When you are ranked No. 3 in the nation — and the top two teams are about to play each other — it becomes pretty clear to everyone in the program that your team has a direct path to the national title game. That’s obviously a good position to be in, but it can be very dangerous, as well — especially for a program that is not used to playing with a bull’s-eye on its back.
Just ask South Florida, which was No. 2 in the initial BCS rankings released in 2007 and proceeded to lose its next three games. Or Boston College, who replaced South Florida as the No. 2 team that season but went on to lose consecutive games to Florida State and Maryland to begin the month of November. There are many other programs that have made guest appearances in the top 5 of the BCS standings only to fade away and end the season playing in a mid-level bowl game.
Gundy’s task is to keep his team focused each week. His players know the deal: Oklahoma visits Stillwater on Dec. 3 in what has the potential to be the biggest game in school history. Gundy, however, is well aware that Dec. 3 is only important if his team takes care of business in the weeks that precede Bedlam.
That is what makes Saturday’s performance against Baylor so impressive. The Pokes were able to deal with the distractions that come with the No. 3 ranking and play perhaps their best game of the season against a team that has spent much of the season ranked in the top 25.
“We’re not going to play under pressure,” Gundy said before the Baylor game. “We’re not going to coach under pressure. We want the players to enjoy the experience they’re going through.”
Around the Big 12
• Texas Tech was held to single digits at home (seven points) last week for the first time since October 2000 in a 56–3 loss to Nebraska.
• Missouri tailback Henry Josey is the first player in the league to 1,000 yards. He has 1,017 yards on only 119 attempts for a league-best 8.6-yard average. In the fourth quarter, Josey’s average is 11.8 yards per carry.
• Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles has 18 receptions of 20 yards or more, the most in the Big 12 by five. Baylor’s Kendall Wright is next with 13.
• Kansas is 1–18 in its last 19 Big 12 games. The Jayhawks were 15–6 in the 21 previous league games.
• Baylor is the only team in the nation averaging over 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing.
• When his team is losing by 1-7 points, Robert Griffin III has completed 30-of-42 passes for 487 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
• Kansas State dropped 31 spots (from 29 to 60) in total defense in the national rankings after the Oklahoma game.
• Texas A&M has only converted one fourth down this season, tied with five other teams for fewest in the nation.