STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's rocky football season and disappointing finish can largely be defined by the pivotal plays and key moments during the team's five losses.
Here's a quick countdown, in order, of the “what if” momentum shifts that turned each of the games. If OSU could have swung a pair, particularly the final two, we could be talking Cotton Bowl instead of the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
5. Kansas State game — Clint Chelf's late interception
Even if Chelf's fourth-quarter end zone heave is caught by a Cowboy, not a Wildcat, it's still an uphill battle. OSU would need another stop and score in the game's final two minutes just to send the future Big 12 champs into overtime. Certainly not a favorable scenario, but the Cowboys' fifth and final turnover extinguished all hope.
4. Arizona game — Calvin Barnett's 30-yard penalty binge
The big fella announced his Division I arrival in style, pulling the rarely seen double-suplex, double-penalty on Arizona QB Matt Scott. There's much debate on whether he deserved the second personal foul (it was a strange tangle-up), but there's not much discussion about how much it changed the game. Barnett's powerful move awoke the crowd and opened up the yellow floodgates (bringing turnovers with its flags). OSU led 14-0 at the time, Arizona was up 23-14 soon afterward.
3. Baylor game — Blake Jackson's drops
During an uninspired team effort, Blake Jackson dropped two sure touchdowns on a pair of drives that finished in field goals. It was an eight-point swing in a seven-point loss. And, as coach Mike Gundy bluntly put it postgame: “When you get the ball thrown to you in the end zone, you got to catch the ball. That's a fact.”
2. Texas game — Joe Bergeron's fumblegate
This was the first of two late-game, goal-line scenarios that'll haunt the Cowboys well into the future. Moments after Texas converted a do-or-die fourth down, Longhorn running back Joe Bergeron plunged in for the game-winning touchdown from two yards. Did he fumble before crossing the goal line? Did the refs fail to properly overturn the review? Maybe on both counts. But at this point, it only adds to the sting.
Oklahoma game — Belldozing through on fourth down
Imagine the Cowboys' postseason destination if Caleb Lavey wraps up Blake Bell in the backfield for a tough (but makable) tackle, clinching a Bedlam road game that OSU led throughout. We're talking about one play in a season filled with thousands. The Cowboys aren't a better or worse team, Bill Young's not a more or less qualified defensive coordinator, solely because of that failed stop. But it certainly altered the outlook for both and changed the season's entire complexion.