Oklahoma State Football’s History in New Year’s Six Bowl Games
After a heartbreaking Big 12 Championship loss and departure of defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, all Oklahoma State fans want for Christmas is a New Year’s Six bowl victory to put a bow on an impressive 11-2 season when they face Notre Dame for the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day.
OSU has a scattered history of NY6 Bowls, with only nine appearances since 1945. Although some bowls have shifted in reputation over the years, it wasn’t until the BCS was instituted in 1998 that the six major bowls, Cotton, Sugar, Fiesta, Peach, Orange and Rose became definitive NY6 games.
Today, I’ll be looking back on all of Oklahoma State’s NY6 appearances, meaning games where they participated in the aforementioned six bowls. OSU is 4-4 all-time in NY6 games, but perhaps the Cowboys can break above .500 with a win in Glendale over the Fighting Irish.
1945 Cotton Bowl: Win over TCU 34-0
The program’s first ever bowl appearance came in 1945 in the ninth Cotton Bowl Classic. Off the heels of a 7-1 season, Oklahoma State, who went by Oklahoma A&M back in the day, dismantled TCU in all phases of the game. Running back Bob Fenimore scored two touchdowns, while Jim Spavital, Joe Thomas and Mack Creage added scores themselves. Oklahoma A&M racked up 494 total yards to TCU’s 105 while forcing two fumbles and one interception.
1946 Sugar Bowl: Win over St. Mary’s 33-13
A&M head coach Jim Lookabaugh took his team to a second straight major bowl after going 8-0 in the 1945-46 season. Defense was the story of this matchup, as Oklahoma A&M picked off four passes and recovered two fumbles in a bout that again saw the Aggies win handily. After a halftime score that saw A&M ahead 14-13, the Aggies shut out St. Mary’s in the second half. Lookabaugh’s team again outgained their opponent with 339 total yards to the Gaels’ 238.
1974 Fiesta Bowl: Win over BYU 16-6
Now the Oklahoma State we know today, the Cowboys took down 17th-ranked BYU, 16-6, behind another stout defensive performance. OSU picked off three passes and recovered a fumble while holding the Cougars to two field goals for the game. Running back Kenny Walker won offensive MVP while defensive tackle Philip Dokes took home defensive MVP as Oklahoma State won its first bowl game since 1958.
2004 Cotton Bowl: Loss to Ole Miss 31-28
Oklahoma State faced Ole Miss for the first time ever in the 2004 Cotton Bowl and came away on the losing end. The first of three NY6 matchups to come against the Rebels, OSU narrowly fell to Eli Manning in his final collegiate game. After falling behind 31-14, running back Vernand Morency ran in a score and wide receiver Rashaun Woods caught a touchdown from Josh Fields with 4:39 left to make it 31-28, but the Pokes ran out of time as Ole Miss milked the clock and won the game. Fields and Woods both set Cotton Bowl records with 307 passing yards and 223 receiving yards, respectively.
2010 Cotton Bowl: Loss to Ole Miss 21-7
Six years later, same bowl, same opponent, same result. This year’s Cotton Bowl would be more of a defensive battle, as the score was tied 7-7 heading into the fourth quarter. That was until Rebels’ running back Dexter McCluster scored on a two-yard run and defender Patrick Trahan ran in a scoop-n-score on the subsequent drive with 3:12 remaining. OSU couldn’t recover in time, falling to the Rebels 21-7. Cowboy running back Keith Toston scored the Pokes’ only touchdown, surprisingly, on a jump-pass from the goal line to Wilson Youman.
2012 Fiesta Bowl: Win over Stanford 41-38
The cherry on top of Oklahoma State’s greatest season in school history, No. 3 OSU faced Andrew Luck and the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal in the first meeting between the two teams. The game was a back and forth exhibition of two of the elite offenses in college football, with Luck, Ty Montgomery and Zach Ertz facing off against Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Joseph Randle. Luck and Weeden both threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, while Blackmon capped his OSU career off with 186 receiving yards and three scores. It came down to the legs of both teams’ kickers, when Stanford’s Jordan Williamson missed a game-winning field goal with the game tied 38-38, then again when the Cardinal got the ball first in overtime. After a Colton Chelf catch and run got OSU to the one, Quinn Sharp won the Pokes their first BCS Bowl game with a 22-yard chip shot.
2014 Cotton Bowl: Loss to Missouri 41-31
Oklahoma State met former Big 12 foe Missouri in the 78th Cotton Bowl, where the No. 9 Tigers got the last laugh. Quarterback Clint Chelf had a productive day despite throwing two picks, throwing 377 yards and two touchdowns with another score on the ground. Missouri running back Henry Josey ran all over the Pokes with an average of 7.7 yards per carry. The two teams traded leads throughout the game, and it wasn’t until a Missouri strip-sack on Chelf allowed a 73-yard fumble return for a touchdown to make the score 41-31 late in the fourth, sealing the game for Mizzou.
2016: Sugar Bowl: Loss to Ole Miss 48-20
OSU’s most recent New Year’s Six bowl game was a forgettable one. The No. 16 Cowboys faced No. 12 Ole Miss for the third time in 12 years, and the Rebels again had Oklahoma State’s number (except this was in the midst of Ole Miss’ recruiting scandal and they had to vacate the win so Oklahoma State = 2016 Sugar Bowl champs??). Chad Kelly, Laquon Treadwell, Evan Engram and the entirety of the Rebel offense torched OSU, holding a 34-6 lead at the half. Quarterback J.W. Walsh had both of OSU’s touchdowns, both on the ground, and Ben Grogan hit two field goals.