FORT WORTH, TEXAS -- Oklahoma State's football season did not end Saturday night in Fort Worth.
After OSU's 31-24 loss to TCU in a performance Mike Gundy, the Cowboys' coach, referred to as "just a game full of mistakes," the Pokes reside at 6-6 at the conclusion of the Big 12 regular season. That is a mediocre record compared to the results Cowboy fans have become accustomed to seeing from Gundy's squad each year.
"It's just kinda disappointing, you know?," Gundy said. "I was concerned about whether we could rally back after a big win last week. We were a little flat early in the week, but then we practiced good and finished strong."
Just a week before, the Cowboys defeated then top-10 opponent West Virginia in dramatic fashion thanks to some late-game heroics at Boone Pickens Stadium.
That wasn't out of the ordinary, though.
The Cowboys have competed in the big-time matchups this season. They defeated Boise State, Texas and West Virginia, who are ranked opponents, with strong performances on both sides of the ball. OSU even conceded a one-point loss on the road to in-state rival Oklahoma, a possible 2019 College Football Playoff participant.
But OSU's losses to Texas Tech, Kansas State, Baylor and TCU this season raise more questions than answers, as the Cowboys were favored in every one of those games and have a better record than each of the teams mentioned other than TCU, which sits at 6-6 just like the Pokes.
"When we play a higher-ranked team, we know we've gotta take it from them, and we play at a higher level," Rodarius Williams, an OSU defensive back, said. "Just playing down to people really hurt us in the end."
Gundy said he has tried to preach the importance of each individual game to his team all season, but he can't quite put his finger on why the message hasn't translated to the field.
"It's crazy how we can play one week, and the next week we don't play very well," Gundy said. "I don't have the answer. It's the dangest thing I've ever seen. We play teams that are top-10 in the country, and we play like a top-20 team. We play teams that are not playing as well and struggling, and we play like a top-80 team.
"And I know someone's gonna say, 'Well, do you know why?' If I knew why, I would fix it."
OSU already secured bowl eligibility before its embarrassing loss in Fort Worth, in which the Cowboys failed to complete a touchdown pass, pass for more than 100 yards or have a player rush for more than 25 yards.
Now, the Cowboys will wait to find out their bowl opponent and destination, but Gundy said he wants to get back to square one and focus on fixing in-house issues for about eight practices before he even starts to think about preparing for the opponent.
"I told the team, 'Good thing you get to play another game,'" Gundy said. "'Because I sure would've hated to finish like this.'"