Six Oklahoma State football games were still undecided after three quarters last season. OSU lost four of those six games. That's why inside the Cowboy camp, the theme is not "DE-FENSE!” The rallying cry is "Finish.” "Finish, finish, finish,” said associate head coach Joe DeForest. "Just finish games.” The Cowboys didn't do that last year. Truth is, they gave away two games that should have been victories. OSU dominated Texas A&M much of the game, led 20-10 after three quarters and lost 24-23. The Cowboys jumped on Texas 35-14 but lost the fourth quarter 24-0 and the game 38-35. That was the difference between a 7-6 season and a 9-4 season. The difference between playing Indiana in the Insight Bowl or probably Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. "We didn't play as well as we needed in the fourth quarter,” said offensive line coach Doug Meachem. "Focus on competing and finishing. The last two years, we came right to the edge. Two games, one play in each game, we can win.” Most memorable was the third-and-inches failure deep in A&M territory that could have blown open that game. A missed chip-shot field goal could have secured victory against Texas. "Finish Texas, finish Texas A&M,” DeForest said. "Just finish games, then we're playing for the South championship against OU. We gotta learn how to finish. Our kids recognize that.” The Cowboys weren't all bad in fourth quarters. They staged dramatic rallies to beat Kansas State 41-39 and Texas Tech 49-45. But when it mattered most, the Cowboys withered team-wide. Texas gained 311 total yards in the fourth quarter against OSU, but the Cowboy offense managed just three first downs in the final 15 minutes even though it had four possessions. Starting with Washington State this Saturday, OSU's fourth quarters must improve.
Oklahoma State dominated Texas A&M, leading 20-10 after three quarters only to lose 24-23. Finishing games is high on the Cowboys' priority list this season. BY STEVE GOOCH, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE