Just as the OU Sooners team was not the same after Sam Bradford slammed to the turf against BYU, the 2011 Oklahoma offense that struggled mightily in the Bedlam game is a different team than the one that began the season.
That team was the consensus pick to win it all, to take the BCS trophy as the best college football team in the United States.
It was an opinion shared by pundits, given the returning players and the schedule, and a tradition of winning under head coach Bob Stoops. Not taken into account – since the predictions predated the event – was the death of Austin Box and its continued effect on the players. Not to take away from the Enid native and his anticipated contributions, but the week to week focus on the memory of his vacated place on the 2011 roster might better have been time better spent in moving forward in a season without him.
Then there was Dominique Whaley. Ryan Broyles came next. They were marquee players in the ground and air attack, both lost to injury.
These are facts, not excuses.
Another fact that cannot be ignored in the 2011 Bedlam matchup with OU and OSU, is the truth that the Oklahoma State Cowboys fielded the greatest football team in the school’s long history.
When the wind was low and the air was mild, the Cowboys did what they had to do, while the Sooners tossed interceptions, fumbled the ball, and watched as their in-state rival romped to a massive lead. OU could not even find the endzone; its only brush with paydirt came with 2:25 remaining in the game with Blake Bell taking the snap and powering into the endzone.
In the long and successful tenure of Bob Stoops, OSU had yet to win the game under Coach Gundy. In the long association of Mike Gundy at OSU, he had never won as a player or head coach against OU.
Just as the Baylor streak eventually came to an end, so did the streak of Bob Stoops versus Mike Gundy. There is no shame in a loss to an excellent team, and the Cowboys of 2011 are that.
The timing of the airplane deaths of two OSU coaches was unfortunate and its impact cannot be measured in the loss to Iowa State, the lone defeat in a season that could have had the Cowboys playing for all the marbles.
Next year, Oklahoma State will be without the services of Brandon Weedon and Justin Blackmon – not unlike the situation that faced the OU Sooners after the loss of their dynamic duo. How the OSU team performs without their key playmakers will determine whether the Cowboys have truly lifted the program to the next level.