Despite a valiant comeback effort, the No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowboys fell at home to Kansas State, 40-45 – ending hopes for a spot in the revived Big 12 Championship game.
Oklahoma will face either Iowa State or TCU in the Big 12 title match.
The Cowboys will host hapless Kansas (1-10, 0-8 in the Big 12) at 11 a.m. in a game that could improve OSU’s invitation to a bowl.
“We can’t dwell on this loss,” said OSU receiver James Washington. “We have to come back stronger and make sure that we’re ready to go next week.”
OSU (8-3, 5-3) is tied with Texas, West Virginia and Iowa State in third place in the conference behind No. 1 OU and No. 2 TCU.
Seven Big 12 teams are bowl eligible.
ESPN.com is projecting that the Cowboys could wind up in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando. Other possibilities are the Cactus Bowl, the Texas Bowl, the Alamo Bowl and the Cotton Bowl.
A win over Kansas would be a boost.
“We just have to forget about the loss, correct our mistakes and move on so that we can get our mind focused on Kansas,” said OSU defensive end Cole Walterscheid.
“When we come in (Sunday), it’s a new day and the sun comes up tomorrow,” said OSU offensive tackle Zach Crabtree. “It’s about our approach and the way we attack, because we all have to realize that we still have some big games ahead and so we’ll come back to work and get ready to go.”
OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph’s 425 passing yards moved his season total to 4,115, surpassing his previous two season totals for No. 3 in school history.
He sits 162 yards away from Brandon Weeden’s second-place total of 4,277 (2010).
With three touchdown passes, Rudolph’s season total is now 33, surpassing Josh Fields’ 31(2002) for No. 3 in the school record book.
Additionally, Rudolph ran for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to bring his overall total for touchdowns responsible for this season to 34, which ties Brandon Weeden (2010) for second in school history.
Washington finished with 159 receiving yards to mark his 19th career game with at least 100 receiving yards. It was also his seventh of the season. One more will tie him with Rashaun Woods for the OSU record.
Washington finished the KSU game with 1,317 yards for the season, which surpasses Josh Stewart (1,210, 2012) and Adarius Bowman (1,181, 2006) for eighth-most in a season in school history.
Washington also added a pair of receiving touchdowns to bring his season total to 11, which moves him into eighth in school history in that category.
Washington missed a catch in the last minutes that killed a possible go-ahead drive.
“It was open,” said OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “I think everybody in the stadium saw that. That’s a guy who has made that catch a million times, and he’s got to put that one past him and move on down the road. That’s the nature of the beast. You throw a guy 500 balls in a season, he’s going to drop one. It’s just one of those things where James has to get over that and move on to next week.’
Yurcich seemed unlike himself at the start of the game.
“I think I have to do a better job of preparing him,” Yurcich said. I take full responsibility for it. The kid is a great quarterback, and I’ve got to get him more prepared and do what we have to do to get him executing better.”
Rudolph threw two interceptions that proved to be costly.
“Mason (Rudolph) did not play good in the first half,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “So it’s really pretty simple. I’m disappointed in their play and I’m disappointed in our coaching, in that their plans were better than ours. Their players played better than we did.
“In my opinion, we should’ve won that game just based on talent from top to bottom. It’s got nothing to do with Kansas State. I have all the respect in the world for their staff, all the respect in the world for their players. But we should’ve played better and we should’ve done enough to win the football game. It’s not always that way but in my opinion that’s the way I felt.”
“I don’t think we played very well as a whole so we’ll have to go back and watch the tape,” Rudolph said.
With a 32-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 27-yarder in the second, Matt Ammendola has now made seven of his last eight field goal attempts and five in a row.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder accepted the challenge of stopping OSU’s high-powered offense.
“I think the things we did well is, first, we kept them out of the end zone,” Snyder said. “It was significant in the first half. We gave up big plays and that didn’t stop in the second half as well. At the end of the day, we made the stop that won the ballgame. Being able to hold them on four downs after watching their offense, I’m not sure anybody can hold them for four downs. That’s a pretty major task.”
The Wildcats are used to being considered underdogs.
“We can be a decent football team when we play well on all three sides of the ball. That was probably the biggest emphasis,” Snyder said.
Upsetting OSU in Stillwater would be a big plus to end a terrible season for Kansas.
“I think it will be a great opportunity again,” Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley said after the OU loss. “(It’s the) Last game of the year, and we’ve got to send those seniors off right. We’ll be putting everything we’ve got into this week and hopefully go to Stillwater and get a win.”