It’s been eight years since Oklahoma State last traveled down the Cimarron Turnpike to face in-state rival Tulsa for one of the most memorable games – for all the wrong reasons – in Mike Gundy’s tenure.
“That was quite an experience. I’m guessing it’s probably the longest one ever, right? I don’t know if there’s been one that long,” Gundy said. “… It was just a very unusual evening.”
When the Cowboys travel to Tulsa this weekend, it will be the first time Oklahoma State has played at H.A. Chapman Stadium since the 2011 game that was scheduled to kickoff on a Saturday, but actually kicked on a Sunday with most of the country already in bed.
The game was originally scheduled for a 9 p.m. kickoff due to television, but after over three hours worth of weather delays, it finally kicked off after midnight Sunday morning and ended at 3:35 a.m. with Oklahoma State zombie-walking off the field with a 59-33 victory.
“I wasn’t a big fan of it,” Gundy said. “I just don’t think it’s a good time for college football. And it certainly felt that way when we came out to re-stretch.”
Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham and Oklahoma State counterpart Mike Holder had agreed to cancel the game if lightning struck again within the 30-mile radius around H.A. Chapman Stadium after 11:30 p.m. Saturday. The last strike recorded was at 11:23 p.m., and players returned to the field just before midnight to warm up.
“I think once or twice, somebody came in and said, ‘Do you want to play?’” said Gundy, who was still sporting a buzz cut in that game prior to growing out his mullet. “And I said, ‘Well, we’re over here, it’s already 1 in the morning, might as well play.’ And they asked, ‘What would be the determining factor where you wouldn’t?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, my bedtime is like 9:30 or 10, so I’m already at breakfast’”
During the delay, the Cowboy players were packed into cramped quarters still in the pads and rising humidity. There was also a steady stream of looking for food for both teams – with then-Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship saying after the game that they gave players peanut butter sandwiches at halftime, roughly eight hours after the team’s pregame meal.
While players and coaches were packed in like sardines, fans at the game filed into the Reynolds Center – Tulsa’s basketball arena that seats 8,355, next door to the football stadium, which seats 30,000.
And though the game started three hours later than scheduled, it was still televised in its entirety on FSN. Because of that, the game also still included the commercials paid for to run throughout that game.
“They were still taking TV timeouts, so I asked the referee if he had any control over that,” Gundy said this week. “He asked, ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Do you think anybody is watching? I mean, nobody is watching the game, much less a timeout.’”
But it wasn’t just the weather that played an effect on that evening for Oklahoma State players.
Glenn Spencer, who was the linebackers coach at the time (prior to becoming the defensive coordinator in 2013), left the team during the weather delay as he was summoned to be with his wife, Angela, who ultimately passed away sometime in the first quarter of the game.
“It was difficult, because we had been close with her during that process,” Gundy said. “She had become really close with our group during that process. For me, you fall back on ‘What would Angela want, what would Glenn want?’ They would want you to do what you do.”
As for the game itself, it wasn’t all that pretty, but was still effective for the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State had blitzed out to a 31-6 halftime lead, coasting into the wee hours of the morning with quarterback Brandon Weeden and the starters playing the entire game of the blowout that finished well after last call throughout Oklahoma.
Weeden completed 29 of 39 passes – with two of his incompletions being interceptions – for 369 yards and two touchdowns. The other half of the offense was carried by running back Joseph Randle, who rushed the ball 25 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns.
However, Randle’s rushing efforts were outmatched by Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane had two tailbacks surpass the number put up by Randle. Ja’Terian Douglas had a game-high 173 yards on 12 carries with two trips into the end zone, while Trey Watts finished the night/morning with 23 carries for 159 yards.
The game also showcased what was to come from the opportunistic defense for Oklahoma State. The Cowboy secondary would intercept four passes in that game, which was coupled with two fumble recoveries.
The six takeaways would be a part of an OSU defense that would end up leading Division I football in forced turnovers on its way to the program’s only Big 12 Conference title and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl.
Follow News Press sports editor Jason Elmquist on Twitter @jelmquistSW for updates on Oklahoma State football.