STILLWATER — I’ve heard it at least 20 times, maybe more, since getting back from Waco, Texas last weekend, ‘Oklahoma State is going to be kicked,’ ‘the season is over and there is nothing left to play for,’ and my personal favorite, ‘how can this team be motivated.’ I understand that we live in a different day and age. The College Football Playoff rankings came out on Tuesday and Oklahoma State wasn’t sniffing inclusion in the rankings. For the past three seasons the Cowboys have been a regular in the committee’s rankings and there was the dream of the “final four” or a New Year’s 6 bowl assignment, but the Cowboys are now an observer but still a participant. The Cowboys earlier this season knocked Texas out of a position in the top 10 of the first CFP rankings. They will battled Oklahoma and West Virginia the next two weeks with a chance to keep them out of the playoff.
Last season Iowa State beat both OU and TCU, the two teams that made it to the Big 12 Championship Game. Any value in that? Judging Iowa State this season, my answer is yes. There is always the challenge and playing Oklahoma is a huge challenge.
“I feel this coming weekend we have the chance to do something great that no other teams have been able to do this season,” Cowboys defensive tackle Enoch Smith Jr. said of the opportunity to play sixth-ranked Oklahoma.
Smith is one of my favorite players on this team. You might remember the feature we did on him during the open week and the goal he has of setting up a foundation to help with autism and families that have autistic children. His younger brother, Trey, is autistic and Smith is very devoted to his little brother. He also has the goal of teaching young people, especially in inner cities where he grew up, the value of a dollar.
Smith is motivated as a person, so no surprise he is motivated on the field even in the face of a 5-4 record.
“It should be motivating and if it is not motivating to you, then you should not be on this team,” Smith said of the next two weeks on the Oklahoma State schedule. “I know I’ve been busting my butt out there in practice and I know my fellow defensive linemen and the defensive players have been as well, so if you don’t that motivation to play OU, West Virginia, and TCU then you don’t need to be here. If you are not self-motivated, and we have the chance ourselves to extend our season, then you should not be out here and on this team.”
Oklahoma State has been to bowl games for 12 straight seasons and you would hate to see that come to an end. There is prestige in that streak. I think it also helps in recruiting and the 15 practices, especially for the younger players are invaluable.
Smith is not alone in his views and the other player that offered up some strong words on motivation happens to be one of the hottest players on the Oklahoma State squad in terms of achievement.
“That’s all the motivation that we need and it is like coach has been saying, ‘If I need to motivate you,’ if he has to motivate you for these games then something is wrong with you,” wide receiver Tylan Wallace said of playing the nationally ranked competition. “These are some of the top ranked teams in the country and you should want to go out there and play the best that you can and if you don’t and you aren’t motivated for this game then I don’t know what will (motivate you).”
Fair statement, you don’t get many opportunities to play this game, why waste a single one?