STILLWATER — The final minutes of Oklahoma State's shocking double-overtime loss at Iowa State on Friday played out just like coach Mike Gundy worried they could.
First, the OSU defense allowed a 12-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that tied the game at 24 with 5:30 to play.
Then there was a mental lapse when ISU quarterback Jared Barnett found a wide open James White on a wheel rout for a 25-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime.
And after forcing a Brandon Weeden interception to start the second overtime, Cylone fullback Jeff Woody sealed the biggest victory in ISU history when he bulldozed into the end zone on three consecutive run plays, breaking a bevy of Cowboy arm tackles along the way.
Entering Friday's game, the OSU defense had been on the field for 825 plays this season, or the equivalent of nearly three more games than Alabama's defense. It added 101 more snaps against the Cyclones.
When asked Monday if he was concerned about the amount of time the Cowboy defenders had spent on the field so far, Gundy did not hesitate.
“I am,” Gundy said. “We're doing what we can to make up for that in practice. We have a chart for what we think is effective in practice and games, and when somebody gets over that in a game, then you've got to find a way to get back down to what we think allows them to be effective on game day.
“They're over that right now.”
Gundy, always one to use complex formulas to make sure his players are in top physical shape for the duration of a long season, cut down on running and practice time leading up to the trip to Ames. Even in last week's 66-6 romp at Texas Tech, Gundy left Weeden in the game well into the third quarter to avoid the risk of short drives by the second-team offense that would put the OSU defense right back on the field.
But against the Cyclones, the Cowboy defense resembled a big-league hurler who had gone over his pitch count, turning out a solid performance but fizzling late in the contest as ISU pulled off the 37-31 upset.
Of course, the OSU defense is used to spending plenty of time on the field this season. Baylor ran 105 plays against OSU last month, yet the Cowboys won by 35 points. OSU ranks last in the Big 12 in time of possession (26:59).
But the reason for the extended play for the defense is usually because the Cowboy offense is scoring quickly and scoring often. And the game has often become lopsided early in the second half, meaning that the first-team defense has rarely been asked to play a full game this season.
That wasn't the case Friday, as the OSU offense sputtered to its worst performance of the season.
The Cowboys had five turnovers and four punts. They scored only 17 offensive points in regulation and zero after the first possession of the third quarter. They had eight drives in regulation that were five plays or less and ran 25 less plays than ISU.
Without OSU's normal pile of points, the defense could not hold for four quarters and two overtimes. Though it did give the Cowboys a chance to win in regulation when an Alex Elkins interception and personal foul put the ball at the ISU 29 with 3:17 to go in the fourth quarter before Quinn Sharp missed a 37-yard field goal with 1:17 remaining.
The bye week comes at a premium time for the Cowboys following the stunning defeat that likely knocked them out of the national title race.
Players and coaches will be able to reflect and grieve after the tragic plane crash that killed OSU women's basketball coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna and two others. There will be extra time for film study and game planning for Bedlam. Everyone will get a break for Thanksgiving.
And the OSU defense, which is on pace to surpass last season's mark of 1,069 snaps, will finally get some much-needed rest.