Published January 13, 2015
Oklahoma State has had considerable success winning on the road recently and has plenty of confidence heading to West Virginia this weekend for its Big 12 Conference opener.
Coming off an early bye week, No. 11 Oklahoma State (3-0) has won its last three games away from Boone Pickens Stadium and has a 16-5 record on the road since the start of 2010. Rallying around an 'us-against-them' mindset has paid off for the Cowboys in hostile territory.
"When you're going to go on the road and play against 50, 60, 70,000 people who don't like you and want you to fail, you have to get excited for that," said sophomore quarterback J.W. Walsh. "There's not a better feeling almost than being able to go out there and shut up 70,000 people."
Several Oklahoma State players noted that coach Mike Gundy has referenced the movie "300," which features a small group banding together to battle overwhelming odds and a much larger army.
"When you go on the road, we'll travel with 70 players, give or take a few, and with staff, our travel party on an airplane will be about 115," Gundy said of the typical road contest. "But when you get there, it's 115 people against however many people their stadium holds, for the most part. We've always challenged our team that way to get them to come together as a group and play hard and that gives us the best chance to win."
Heading into Morgantown will feature another interesting wrinkle for the Cowboys, since third-year Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen served as Oklahoma State offensive coordinator in 2010.
After a 37-0 loss at Maryland on Saturday, West Virginia (2-2) is 0-1 in Big 12 play after a 16-7 defeat at No. 14 Oklahoma on Sept. 7.
But even though he's been gone for three years, Holgorsen's impact can still be felt in Stillwater, as many current Cowboys were around during his tenure, including running back Jeremy Smith and backup quarterback Clint Chelf.
"Coach Holgorsen is a pretty good coach, I know he can overcome (the recent loss)," said Smith, a senior. "West Virginia is a pretty good team, but this really isn't about them. It's about the way we prepare, the way we go out there and take care of business."
One of Holgorsen's biggest contributions to Oklahoma State is the no-huddle offense that has been so successful so far this season, racking up 115 points over the last two games.
"The offense that we still run is the offense that he brought here, even though we've tweaked it a bunch and added our own nuances over the years," said Walsh, who was initially recruited from Denton (Texas) Guyer High School by Holgorsen. "He was a character. People talk about his coaching style, but he was definitely a lot of fun to get recruited by and talk to, and I know he's a great coach."
Gundy elaborated a bit on the Holgorsen's role in attracting Walsh to Oklahoma State, which included his friendship with John Walsh, J.W.'s father, who still coaches Denton Guyer.
"We knew about J.W., but Dana kind of pushed the issue with him, and his relationship with Coach Walsh was really good," Gundy said. "From there, when we saw his tape and his history of being a winner, it didn't really take much to convince us to bring him in, but he was the one that pushed the envelope early."
Even though he'll be facing Holgorsen, Walsh will be focused on maintaining the proper focus on the road.
"This year, every time we've traveled, we've handled it well, we've traveled the right way," Walsh said. "We've treated it like a business trip, and with the leadership we have on the team, I think we'll continue to travel with success."