Oklahoma State football head coach Mike Gundy stated that OSU just got the biggest win in school history in its 37-35 defeat of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
Is he right?
Gundy made this claim in the heat of the moment. His team, after trailing 28-7 and looking listless in the second quarter of the Fiesta Bowl, had just scored 30 unanswered points to mount the largest comeback in school history.
This historic comeback came against one of college football’s premier blue bloods in Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have 11 national titles, 929 overall wins, and seven Heisman Trophy winners to their name. Movies like Rudy and the pageantry surrounding traditions like the “Touchdown Jesus” mural make Notre Dame one of college football’s most prestigious programs.
And in recent years, though the Irish have failed to win in the College Football Playoff, Notre Dame has still been highly successful. Under recent head coach Brian Kelly (now at LSU), the Irish have put together five consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins and are a mainstay in the AP Top 10 rankings. In the last two years alone, 15 Notre Dame players have heard their names called during the NFL Draft.
Even with these extraordinary circumstances in the Fiesta Bowl win, which gives OSU only its second season finish ever with 12 wins, only one condition would make Gundy’s assertion true: forward momentum.
Forward momentum in 2022 for Oklahoma State football is key to considering the Cowboys’ victory against Notre Dame the biggest in school history.
If OSU becomes next year’s Iowa State — that is, a talented team that enjoys a double-digit win season before crashing down to earth with a 7-6 record the following year — then there’s no defensible way to claim the Notre Dame victory as the biggest win in the annals of Oklahoma State football history.
Gundy will graduate several fifth-year seniors that anchored the defense, as well as some talented playmakers on offense who had transferred from other schools and enjoyed the limelight of playing one final season of college football.
If these players are replaced by OSU’s current group of freshmen and sophomores (and not to mention a good-lucking high school recruiting class), then the case could be made for the Notre Dame building OSU’s momentum as a program. It would be seen as the signature win of a renaissance era of Cowboys football after some relatives struggles in 2018 and 2019.