Over the next two weeks, we’ll continue to close the door on the 2013 season. Every Big 12 team suffered at least one loss during the regular season, and losses can be as beneficial as wins. In this team-by-team series, we’ll take a look at the best loss of the year for each Big 12 team, including what happened and why it matters.
On Wednesday, we focus on Oklahoma State.
Best loss: 30-21 against West Virginia on Sept. 28 as the Cowboys went from Big 12 favorite to afterthought one game into their conference season.
What happened: The Cowboys punched WVU in the mouth with a 73-yard touchdown reception by Josh Stewart to start the game, but the Mountaineers fought back instead of withering, scoring 17 unanswered points and taking control of the game. OSU never found its offensive rhythm while its special teams crumbled. The defense was left out on a limb to try to win the game on its own and the limb broke.
WVU made the plays when it needed them while OSU watched opportunity after opportunity slip from its grasp.
Why it was helpful: Winning became the No. 1 priority after the long trip home from Morgantown, W. Va., after the loss. The competition at quarterback between J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf ramped up as Walsh started the next two games but was eventually replaced by Chelf. Running back Desmond Roland also started to become more involved with the offense after the loss, as OSU looked to stop losing games while some of its most productive players were watching on the sideline.
The loss forced OSU to make needed personnel changes on offense as Chelf and Roland eventually took over at their positions and the offensive line was shifted around with tackle Parker Graham moving inside to guard to shore up the interior. It was a much-needed lesson for team that looked like it showed up to Milan Pusker Stadium expecting to add another W to its win column inside of trying to earn one.
Revealing stat: Minus-19 points off turnovers margin. The Cowboys had three turnovers, including a Mountaineers’ interception return for touchdown. Those turnovers and a season-low 4.98 yards per play average doomed OSU to the loss.
Quote of note: “One thing I can take from this year is the loss to West Virginia and how the team came together, how much better we seemed to practice after the loss and do the things to get better.” -- OSU safety Daytawion Lowe during Cotton Bowl preparation.