STILLWATER — Mike Gundy sat angry on the plane, flying back to Oklahoma from West Virginia the afternoon of Sept. 28.
“Felt like a 12-hour flight,” Gundy said. “I was as upset with myself as I've ever been. And it was my fault, because I allowed it to happen.”
West Virginia beat the Cowboys 30-21 that day. A slap across the face of a team expected to contend for the Big 12 championship.
Gundy doesn't really expound on why he holds himself responsible for the Morgantown debacle.
Couldn't really be personnel issues; Gundy and staff didn't make the switch to quarterback Clint Chelf and tailback Des Roland until three and four weeks later.
Maybe it was the game plan, which largely stunk. Maybe it was a general mindset problem.
Whatever it was, it's time for Gundy to let it go. The Cowboys have recovered quite nicely from what has proved to be one of college football's upsets of the year.
OSU is back on track to win the Big 12 championship. If the Cowboys beat OU on Dec. 7 — and the Cowboys will be favored by a healthy margin — they go to the Fiesta Bowl for the second time in three years.
And barring unlikely circumstances, that loss to West Virginia will not cost OSU in the national picture. Losing to Iowa State two years ago cost the Cowboys a Big Bowl berth. The only way the loss to West Virginia is as costly is if two of Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State lose these last two Saturdays.
But the story of Morgantown has changed. No longer is it paramount to discover what happened. More importantly is what's happened since.
The Cowboys recovered. Improved. Slowly found themselves. The truth is, OSU was not all that good of a team in the early season. But a backloaded schedule paid off. By the time Texas and Baylor and now OU arrived, the Cowboys were primed.
“Directly after the game, people kept saying that we could win out and still win the Big 12,” Tracy Moore said of West Virginia. “That's our goal, but after that game, we kind of started to question ourselves. We went to work, though, and told each other that we were going to give it our all. That's working pretty well for us so far.”