By JOHN TRANCHINA, Associated Press
STILLWATER (AP) — Oklahoma State is making a habit of this.
The Cowboys won another tight one Saturday, beating Iowa State 49-42. It was the third game Oklahoma State won this season decided by one possession — eight points or less.
The Cowboys (8-2, 5-2 Big 12, No. 15 CFP) have gone 7-0 in such contests, dating to their loss to Central Michigan early last season. Including that game — in which they lost on a final play that was mistakenly awarded by officials — they are 14-1 in their last 15 outings decided by less than 10 points, going back to 2014.
On Saturday, Oklahoma State overcame a 42-35 deficit in the final six minutes, with Rudolph connecting with Dillon Stoner on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 3:47 remaining. Cornerback A.J. Green cemented the victory with an interception in the end zone with 32 seconds to go.
“I’ve had a lot of practice at it, getting pretty good at it,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “Word on the street is, if you want to see a hell of a game and have a lot of excitement, just come to an Oklahoma State game.”
Gundy believes his team is served well in these sorts of games because of its mindset.
“Hopefully, just the culture that we create, and just understand, ‘Play the next play, control what you can control.’ I really believe that has an impact,” Gundy said.
He also points to his team’s practices and attention to such things as nutrition, hydration and sleep.
“I think a lot of teams in the country have that, but it’s like raising a kid and actually having rules and enforcing them,” he said. “Like if you say, ‘If you do this, I’m taking your phone away for a week,’ and then if they do it, and after two days, you say, ‘I’m tired of you wearing me out, here’s your phone back.’ You’ve got to enforce the policy. We enforce the policy here on things we believe in. I think that helps us win games.”
Gundy stresses that he trusts the team’s leaders to produce in the clutch.
“I tell them all the time, ‘It’s you guys out there playing, I can’t do it for you,” he said. “You’ve got to find a way, figure it out.’ That’s the way life is, right?”
Oklahoma State’s next opponent also has plenty of experience in tight games. The difference, however, is that Kansas State (5-5, 3-4) is 1-4 in one-possession games, including 1-1 in overtime.
Gundy attributes the close games to more evenly matched teams in today’s college football landscape. He expects another one Saturday.
“I think we all know in this league, you can take the majority of the teams in this league and put them on a neutral site and it’s going to be a toss-up,” he said. “I don’t see any difference in this game.”
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