Despite various opinions of its worthiness, Oklahoma State finds itself at the back door of the College Football Playoff, poised to crash the party.
The No. 8 Cowboys (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) are one of the last four undefeated teams from Power 5 conferences. They have two games to play, both at home, and will likely rise in the CFP rankings when this week’s edition is unveiled Tuesday night.
The Cowboys host No. 6 Baylor (8-1, 5-1) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1) on Nov. 28 for their annual Bedlam game.
“We understand the task at hand,” coach Mike Gundy said at Monday’s Big 12 coaches conference call. “We need every day of practice, meetings and reps to put ourselves in position to play Saturday.
“We’re not good enough to look beyond a practice, and that’s the approach we’ve had and the one we want to keep this week.”
Oklahoma State’s unorthodox rise includes defying the adage: “If you have two starting quarterbacks, you don’t have one.”
That’s not exactly the case with OSU, which starts Mason Rudolph but often rotates in J.W. Walsh depending on the situation.
They’re good people and unselfish. It’s a very delicate situation that’s working for us, and I’m not sure could work any other year.
OSU coach Mike Gundy on his two QBs
Rudolph has passed for 3,161 yards and 18 touchdowns, while Walsh has completed just 22 passes — 10 for touchdowns.
But Walsh, a Denton Guyer product, has helped boost a sluggish running game.
“I think we fell into it in the preseason practice,” Gundy said. “We knew both would give us something to help our football team. They’re good people and unselfish. It’s a very delicate situation that’s working for us, and I’m not sure it could work any other year.
“There’s not a question each want to play all 80 plays. If they didn’t feel that way, we wouldn’t want them playing at all. This gives us the best chance to win games, and they’ve bought into it.”
Hold that line
OSU certainly took note of what No. 12 Oklahoma did Saturday to knock off previously unbeaten Baylor.
The Sooners held the Bears to a season-low 159 yards rushing. After giving up 83 yards on the ground in the first quarter, Oklahoma held Baylor to just 76 yards over the final three.
“That was the main point of the game,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Baylor will destroy you running the football if you allow them to. We really controlled it after the first quarter.”
OU upward bound
The Sooners also will move up in the rankings this week and — if not for that infamous October stumble against Texas — Oklahoma would be a definite ingredient in the CFP mix.
But Oklahoma, which hosts TCU this week, still might be a player.
“To a degree,” Stoops said when asked if he keeps an eye on the rankings. “I can’t control that. All I can control is how we practice and getting better each day. If we win this week, we have a chance to make an improvement.”
Oklahoma’s hopes are further boosted by the play of quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Big 12’s offensive player of the week after passing for 270 yards and three touchdowns and adding 76 yards and a score on the ground.
▪ Texas coach Charlie Strong said running back Johnathan Gray (foot) and right guard Patrick Vahe (knee) would be re-evaluated.
▪ Iowa State nose guard Demond Tucker, who set career highs Saturday with eight tackles, four tackles for loss, and two sacks, and Kansas State kick returner Morgan Burns, who had a school-record 221 yards and one touchdown, were named defensive and special teams players of the week.