STILLWATER — Back in the heat of summer workouts, the Cowboys labored and sweated and prepared in anticipation of a season that would find them as the preseason pick to win the Big 12.
Yet something wasn't quite right.
“We knew we were not where we needed to be at that point,” said Oklahoma State safety Daytawion Lowe.
So Lowe and the squad's large group of seniors huddled together in a defensive meeting room, going around the room, challenging one another in a call for accountability.
“It was us coming together and letting everybody know,” Lowe said, “and there was a leader in every group. We talked about, ‘You get your guys ready. I'm going to get my guys ready. And if your guys are slacking, you take care of it. And if you see one of my guys slacking, come to me and I'll take care of it.'
“It's just accountability. There wasn't no disrespect, no ‘You need to get your guys …' We just addressed it.”
In retrospect, it's a scene the Cowboys claim as a galvanizing moment in handling the months ahead, as the seniors continue to heavily influence a rapidly rewarding season. And it continues with a Bedlam game Saturday that offers OSU another shot at a Big 12 championship and offers its eldest group a shot at becoming the winningest senior class in program history.
“Guys were just stepping into that leadership role, everybody was,” said offensive lineman Parker Graham, another of the seniors. “I think that was a great thing, because you can see how that spread throughout the team, not only on offense, but defense and special teams as well.
“It was just a really good way for us to start off the season. And we've come together the entire season as a team.”
The contributions from seniors have been widespread, partly because this class has panned out and not suffered the attrition that plagues so many groups. As part of Saturday's Senior Day festivities, 28 Cowboys will be recognized, 23 of whom have played significant roles.
OSU's top three tacklers — and seven of its top nine: seniors.
The Cowboys lead the league in takeaways. Seniors have produced 17 of the team's 19 interceptions and 6 of 10 fumble recoveries.
On offense, six seniors have either thrown, caught or run for touchdowns. And senior quarterback Clint Chelf, whose return to the starting lineup sparked OSU's current seven-game winning streak, looms as a major storyline to OSU's surge toward a potential Fiesta Bowl berth and a finish in the top-5 of the final polls.