Cowboys hope to avoid another Longhorn letdown

Monday, October 30th 2006, 6:40 pm
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) After what has happened the last three times his team has faced Texas, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Monday he just might not let his players leave the field at halftime this week against the #4 Longhorns.

Texas has trailed at halftime in each of the past three games against the Cowboys (5-3, 2-2 Big 12) but has outscored Oklahoma State 118-0 in the 2nd half for 3 come from behind wins.

“At halftime, we're just going to go to the end zone and sit down,” Gundy said Monday. “We're not going to go to the locker room.”

The Longhorns' comebacks have been uncanny. In 2003, Texas scored 41 unanswered points in the 2nd half to win 55-16. The next year, the deficit was 35-7 before Texas scored 49 in a row, 42 after halftime, to win 56-35. And last year, the Longhorns got a field goal right before halftime to get within 28-12, then scored 35 straight points in the 2nd half.

“Last year was pretty insane,” Oklahoma State defensive end Nathan Peterson said. “I didn't really expect the 2nd half to go the way it did. I felt like we had such a good lead that there was no way we wouldn't be able to hang on.”

“It just goes to show you what they were capable of and how good they were.”

Vince Young's 80 yard touchdown run on the third play of the 2nd half got the comeback going, and he added 2 more scores, one rushing and one passing, to give Texas the lead.

“We underestimated them in the 2nd half,” Peterson said. “This team is smart and we're close. We're like a family. We're not going to underestimate Texas anymore.”

If the Cowboys are able to grab another early lead on Texas (8-1, 4-0), they may do more than just ignore halftime. In their four Big 12 games, Oklahoma State is averaging 27.8 2nd half points.

“I know in a couple of those years, we started to play a lot more relaxed and we were trying to run the clock, not necessarily trying to get in the end zone,” guard Kurt Seifried said. “I know (offensive coordinator Larry) Fedora, that's not his attitude. We're definitely not going to pull back if we ever get up.”

This week certainly isn't the first time the Cowboys have been focused on preventing 2nd half collapses. 4th quarter rallies by Kansas State and Texas A&M cost the Cowboys wins, and they finally were able to close out a big game when Peterson scored on a 19 yard fumble return to seal a 41-29 win against then #20 Nebraska on Saturday.

Texas only adds fuel to that fire.

“It just goes back to what we've been preaching the last couple weeks,” safety Andre Sexton said. “We've got to finish the game. Our big motto last week was finish, and pretty much throughout the whole game we just kept reminding ourselves that we have to finish.”

“It's going to be even more important this week because we've had them the last couple years. But you can't just have them for a half, you have to have them for the whole game and then finish it out when the 4th quarter's done.''

Gundy compared Oklahoma State's comeback from a 16-0 deficit against Nebraska to what has happened to the Cowboys against Texas the past three years.

“A snowball got started and it was like, `Get out of the way,'” Gundy said. “When that momentum got going down there, we couldn't do anything right.”

The win over Nebraska leaves Oklahoma State needing one win in its last four games to become bowl eligible.

“It's huge in a lot of ways,” Peterson said. “It shows what our team's capable of. We are capable of finishing a game.”

Peterson said he was a bit disappointed that fans didn't tear down the goalposts like they did after the Cowboys beat Nebraska in 2002.

“That's what I was wanting. I haven't been a part of any of that yet where the student section stormed the field, but I wanted to see that,” Peterson said. “We're saving that for OU.”