Bowl bids await after Bedlam blowout

Nov 29, 2009 - 11:51 PM By JEFF LATZKE AP Sports Writer

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- When Oklahoma State's bid for its first Bowl Championship Series appearance fell apart with a shutout loss against rival Oklahoma, conventional wisdom suggested that the Cowboys would soon be hearing from the Cotton Bowl.

Coach Mike Gundy was still waiting to hear about his team's bowl destination when he talked to reporters on Sunday afternoon.

"I can't get anybody to call me. I can't even get my family to call me," Gundy said a day after OSU's 27-0 loss to the Sooners. "You have a tough game like that and everybody thinks that you go in the tank, and for a certain amount of time you do. As any coach, you get down and you feel bad for the players but then the sun comes up."

Instead of putting themselves in position for an at-large BCS bid, the Cowboys (9-3, 6-2 Big 12) fell 11 spots to No. 22 in The Associated Press poll Sunday.

The Cotton Bowl, played Jan. 2 in Dallas, has the first choice outside of the BCS qualifiers and had a representative checking out the Cowboys on Saturday.

"It's a great opportunity, and the Cotton Bowl is a big-time bowl," Gundy said. "We were on the brink of being in the BCS and there's no question we wanted that. But if you're not going to be in the BCS, if you're Oklahoma State, to have the opportunity to play in the Cotton Bowl is great not only because people can get there but because the majority of our football team is from the state of Texas and they have the chance to be home for Christmas."

Oklahoma (7-5, 5-3), meanwhile, improved its postseason destination by showing it hasn't given up on a disappointing season. The Sooners, with their most regular-season losses in coach Bob Stoops' 11 seasons, figure to land in one of the Big 12's mid-range bowls. The Alamo, Sun and Insight bowls have new reasons to seek the Sooners after their third shutout of the season.

"This year has been incredibly challenging, but that doesn't take away the kids' attitude and effort, and they've been positive through the year," Stoops said. "Regardless of the situation, they still have been a good group to coach and so I'm just happy for them to play so well here in the last game."

Making the rout even more impressive was that Oklahoma played without four of its starting offensive linemen after Trent Williams was unable to play due to a concussion. Tight end Eric Mensik made his first career start on the offensive line in his place.

On defense, the Sooners were without third-leading tackler Ryan Reynolds. The starting middle linebacker was sidelined by a strained hamstring.

"I've got to admit I was doing my darnedest to stay positive, but it was tough. I can't lie about it," Stoops said. "But I did, found a way somehow to still keep that faith and to try and spread it to the players that `Hey, we're all right."'

Dealing with injuries has become a matter of habit for the Sooners by now. Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford has missed all but three games and star tight end Jermaine Gresham was lost for the season before it even started. None of Oklahoma's offensive players have started all 12 games.

"We can't really make up excuses for guys going down," said receiver Ryan Broyles, who had 316 all-purpose yards against OSU. "We have great athletes at the University of Oklahoma, so more than anything (Stoops) had a positive attitude and told us not to hang our heads for anything."

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