MIZZOU at OK State
Stillwater, OK - The off-field issues surrounding All-American receiver Dez Bryant haven't proved to be too much of a distraction for Oklahoma State on the field, but the No. 16 Cowboys are still hoping the situation will be settled before their next game.
Oklahoma State looks to win its fourth straight when it hosts Missouri on Saturday night, hoping Bryant will be reinstated from his suspension in time to play.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made Oklahoma State –7.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on Oklahoma State –7.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
The Cowboys (4-1, 1-0 Big 12) posted a thrilling victory over Missouri (4-1, 0-1) last year, knocking off the then-No. 3 Tigers 28-23 on Oct. 11, 2008, to derail their national title hopes.
Oklahoma State's coaching staff is trying to keep the team focused on Saturday's rematch, but it could be difficult given the news that Bryant and his reinstatement application has made this week.
Bryant, who was second in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 19 touchdown receptions in 2008, has missed the last two games - including a 36-31 victory at Texas A&M last Saturday - after he was declared ineligible for an improper interaction with a former NFL player. The Cowboys have requested he be reinstated.
"We have started the reinstatement process, which means we're in support of him 100 percent," coach Mike Gundy said. "He made a mistake. He was untruthful and he's admitted that. How long it's going to take, I don't know. Whether they're going to reinstate him or not, I don't know."
Bryant, a top NFL prospect, lied to NCAA investigators about a visit with Deion Sanders earlier in the year. Sanders told the NFL Network that his agent was not present at the meeting and he did not give Bryant any gifts.
Bryant said he lied to investigators because he was scared.
"I kept thinking about how football has been my dream for years and how football was going to allow the chance to make a living and help my family," he wrote in a two-page apology to the NCAA. "My mom, my son, brother and sister all depend on me and I felt that somehow I had let them down."
Bryant, who had 17 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns in the season's first three games, was expected to have a follow-up interview with the NCAA on Tuesday at Indianapolis. His apology letter accompanied Oklahoma State's formal reinstatement request. He has not practiced with the team.
"Not that he's a distraction," Gundy said. "The players understand what's going on, but it's just not the time and the place right now until somebody says 'OK, here's what direction we're going.' When that's going to happen, I'm not sure."
While the Cowboys wait for word on Bryant's fate, they continue to prepare for Missouri. Oklahoma State escaped with a victory over the Aggies last week despite the absences of Bryant and 2008 conference leading rusher Kendall Hunter, who sat out with an ankle injury.
Quarterback Zac Robinson was 14 of 25 for 279 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, while fellow senior Beau Johnson ran for two scores. The Aggies scored with 3:35 remaining but were unable to get the ball back as Oklahoma State converted two first downs in its final drive.
"It was a heck of a week," Robinson said. "Any time there are distractions and things that go on that you can't control, you find out a lot about yourself and your team. I couldn't be more proud of how everybody responded to it, stayed loose and just kind of kept playing."
Even without two of their biggest offensive weapons, Oklahoma State finished with 448 total yards - its second-most of the season. Keith Toston ran for 130 yards while Robinson varied his targets with three players totaling more than 50 receiving yards.
"We've got a number of guys that can step up and make some plays," Gundy said. "They've got a long way ahead of them and a lot of work to do. We're very encouraged with their effort."
Missouri is trying to respond to a different kind of adversity after falling out of the top 25 following a 27-12 loss to then-No. 21 Nebraska on Oct. 8 - the first of three consecutive games against ranked opponents.
The Tigers led 12-0 before collapsing in the final period. Two of their fourth-quarter drives ended in interceptions that eventually led to Cornhusker scores.
"There were a lot of opportunities the first three quarters," coach Gary Pinkel said. "If we had done a better job executing there on both sides of the football, it might not have gotten like that in the fourth."
Sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert was 17 of 43 for 134 yards. He injured his ankle in the first quarter of the rainy contest, and it seemed to effect his mobility. Still, he isn't worried about Saturday.
"You take some shots - it's a football game," he said. "It's a physical sport, so I was sore but it was nothing out of the ordinary."
Missouri had won seven of nine against Oklahoma State before last year's loss, and has won its last four visits to Stillwater.
Posted: 10/13/09 11:05PM ET