PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – If BYU is going to go to a bowl game for the sixth straight year, the Cougars have to beat #21 Oklahoma State this Saturday in Stillwater.
If not, the Cougars will be home for the holidays after a rough first season in the Big 12 Conference.
“Going against a tough opponent and another ranked team, Oklahoma State, who is in contention for the conference championship,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said Monday. “What a great opportunity for us to play the game on this weekend, after Thanksgiving, to reflect what we’ve been blessed with and the opportunities that we have.”
BYU had plenty of opportunities for a signature win against #13 Oklahoma on Saturday. But too many mistakes led to a 31-24 loss to the Sooners. Still, considering the opponent, this may have been the best game BYU has played all year.
“Knowing that we have a lot of potential,” said defensive back Jakob Robinson. “We can really beat whoever we want. We’ve just got to do what is asked of us.”
“I was really pleased with the guys’ effort,” Sitake said. “The guys belief helped us stay in it. Obviously we didn’t make enough plays to come out with the victory, but there are a lot of things to be proud of. After the game, it’s easy to focus on the negative, and I did that quite a bit.”
Sitake did harp on the decision quarterback Jake Retzlaff made to throw the ball instead of run it on a run-pass option play, that led to a game-changing 100-yard pick-6 by Billy Bowman. Whether Retlaff makes another start against the Cowboys this Saturday or if Kedon Slovis is healthy enough to return will be decided this week.
“Going into this week, it’s who is going to help us put points on the board, extend drives and convert first downs,” Sitake said about the quarterback decision. “Kedon hasn’t been healthy. They’ve been practicing and competing against each other. For me, I’d like to see more points on the board and less turnovers.”
BYU did commit three costly turnovers against Oklahoma, but the Cougars rushed for a season-high 217 yards, 182 by Aidan Robbins.
“It felt really good for us as and offensive line to roll those guys off the ball a little bit, and establish a run game,” said offensive lineman Connor Pay. “That’s something we felt that we could have had the entire season.”
As disappointing of a season as its been, to go out with a win over a top-25 team to get to a bowl game would be huge.
“They’re a well-coached team,” Sitake said about the Cowboys. “You don’t become a ranked team just by coincidence. You have to do things the right way, and they do.”
BYU (5-6) and Oklahoma State (8-3) will kick off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC4.