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Oklahoma State football: Close games the new normal for these Cowboys

by Jenni Carlson Modified: October 5, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: October 5, 2013

Mike Gundy has some advice for the Oklahoma State faithful who are less than enamored with the offense struggling and the defense needing hero mode and the Cowboys having to win close games.

Get used to it.

Oh, the Oklahoma State coach didn't exactly say it that way Saturday, but in various ways, that was his message after this season's latest drama.

OSU 33, Kansas State 29.

This is the new normal.

“We play a little different this year than we have the last few years,” Gundy said.

No doubt about that.

These aren't the blow-you-out-early, win-going-away Cowboys of seasons past. In those days, reserves got to play a bunch in the second half and the fans got to hit the tailgates early.

Those days are gone.

These past two weeks have made that obvious. Even in a weakened Big 12, OSU has found itself in dogfights with teams that are expected to finish in the bottom half of the league. It was a nail-biting loss at West Virginia a week ago, and Saturday, it was a nail-biting win against K-State.

Better get used to the nail biting, Cowboy fans.

The main reason: this OSU team doesn't have an offense that is consistent enough to win regularly by blowout.

The up-and-down nature of this bunch was on full display Saturday.

The Cowboys managed no points on their first two possessions, then scored on three of their next four, then went dry on the next two. Even when they got back on the board with field goals on their next two possessions, they were sputtering possessions. On both, the Cowboys had extremely short fields after the defense snagged interceptions, but the offense couldn't punch it into the end zone.

The first of those two drives started at the K-State 22, and when Jeremy Smith managed nothing on third and 5, a flock of boo birds came out at Boone Pickens Stadium.

It was hard to argue that displeasure.

Even the Cowboy coaches were left scratching their heads as to what ailed the offense.

“I don't have a clue,” Gundy said. “I wish I could give you a good answer so it would sound good on the news tonight.”

The truth is it's a lot of things. A receiving corps that hasn't lived up to extremely high expectations. A run game that misses Joe Randle. An offensive line that lost its starting left tackle and has yet to find an answer. A new offensive coordinator who is still adjusting to big-time football.

And, of course, there's the inconsistent arm of J.W. Walsh. Sometimes, it's great. Sometimes, it's not. And you just never know which it's going to be.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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