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Losses, not wins, are lasting memory at Oklahoma State

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Gundy: Goal is to win conference championship

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy talks about the development of QB Mason Rudolph and offers his take on whether the Big 12 conference should expand.

DALLAS -- It’s easy to remember the joys of Oklahoma State’s finish to the 2014 season.

The Bedlam win over Oklahoma. The TicketCity Cactus Bowl win over Washington. The stellar play of freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph in three starts to end the season.

Those memories have become the overriding narrative surrounding Oklahoma State this offseason.

Yet the players remember something different.

“The season as a whole,” linebacker Seth Jacobs said earlier this week during Big 12 media days of the Cowboys' 7-6 record last season. “Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to.”

Coach Mike Gundy’s program suffered one of its worst seasons in recent memory in 2014, as a young squad struggled to overcome an ineffective offense and a weary defense during a five-game losing streak in the second half of the year. The Cowboys finished with a negative points margin per game (minus-3.6) for the first time since 2005 and failed to average more than 30 points for the first time since 2009.

That much losing is uncommon for this current crop of Cowboys. The six-loss season was the first campaign with at least six losses since 2007. Even though the Cowboys finished strong and gave everyone reason to believe last season wasn’t a debacle, that five-game losing streak before OSU’s final two victories lingers in the minds of many in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

“That was more for the fans to see we went through some struggles, but at the end we pulled through and were able to finish strong,” cornerback Kevin Peterson said of Oklahoma State's strong finish. “But you have to see the season wasn’t ideal like we wanted. You can’t overlook the games we had before that.”

No doubt beating the Sooners and Huskies gave OSU confidence and momentum heading into the offseason, but Gundy’s squad understands seven wins is no longer good enough for a program that has gotten used to competing for Big 12 titles.

“That was great momentum, winning those games heading into the offseason,” Jacobs said. “But we were more displeased with how the season went overall. So we’re more fueled by that and trying to be more successful than we were last year.”

The losses, not the successes, have been the driving force this offseason.

“We have high expectations for ourselves,” Peterson said. “And when we fall short of that, it really upsets us.”