STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Even the biggest — and richest — Oklahoma State fan couldn’t get overly excited about this victory.
Before the 19th-ranked Cowboys kicked off their season with a ridiculous 84-0 victory against Savannah State on Saturday night, billionaire booster Boone Pickens said he wanted to see Oklahoma State put together a tougher nonconference schedule.
“I just think we can do better,” he said. “Notre Dame’s already booked but I’d just as soon play Notre Dame. Everybody wants to play Notre Dame.”
To call what the Tigers provided for Oklahoma State a tune-up is probably an overstatement.
“I’m just glad the kids went out and played hard,” coach Mike Gundy said after the team’s most lopsided win since 1916.
“We play the games that are scheduled and go on down the road.”
Freshman Wes Lunt completed all 11 of his passes in a brief first outing as the new starting quarterback for Oklahoma State.
Lunt and many of the other starters didn’t even make it to the end of the first quarter before getting pulled out of respect for a lower division team that had won only one game each of the previous two seasons.
Gundy wanted no part of discussing the pros and cons of choosing to play a team that had gone 4-72 against competition from the Football Championship Subdivision — that’s a level below Oklahoma State’s Football Bowl Subdivision, with fewer scholarships and resources.
Savannah State (0-1) got a $385,000 payout for its first game against an FBS opponent, and coach Steve Davenport wasn’t sure afterward if even that made it worthwhile.
“We’re going to have to readdress that. You get paid for certain things, but I don’t know if at the end of the day, some things are worth the payments you get. But we’ll see. Those are conversations we’ll have.
“But we’ve got to get better and be more competitive to do these kind of things and play these games. But it’s a process for us and we’re really in the early stages of rebuilding this program.”
Not much will change though before the Tigers play at No. 7 Florida State next week.
This one was over almost as soon as it started. Oklahoma State scored on its first five possessions to take a 35-0 lead late in the first quarter, needing no more than 90 seconds on any of the scoring drives.
In a flash, the starters were replaced by backups and — when the points kept piling up — third, fourth and fifth-teamers were on the field.
“Of course we would have liked to play a little longer, but that’s just part of the nature of the situation tonight,” said Joseph Randle, who ran for 107 yards on just six carries, with TD runs from 2 and 40 yards.
Asked if he’d rather be playing in a marquee game like the ones involving Alabama and Michigan or Clemson and Auburn on Saturday night, Randle started out saying: “I would rather play in a real” before catching himself and saying “next question.”
Pickens, who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to overhaul the stadium and the entire football program, said he’d had close to a hundred requests to use his suite at the Alabama-Michigan game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
He was fired up about that game, even though he was attending his alma mater’s opener.
“I want to upgrade the nonconference schedule,” Pickens said beforehand. “Am I excited about opening the season? Yes, of course. … I don’t want to say anything that would hurt our opponent’s feelings or anything. I just want to play a stronger nonconference schedule.”
Gundy said earlier in the week that he wants to “play the three easiest teams we can play and then play conference.” He wouldn’t say if he’d do it again.
This game came about as part of schedule shuffling brought on by conference realignment last year, but the Cowboys weren’t looking for a marquee opponent.
“I don’t want to comment on anything on Savannah State, out of respect to them,” Gundy said. “I don’t think it’s fair for me to comment on them. The game was scheduled and we played it and it’s irrelevant.
“I want to talk about things that are important, which are our team and the future and the schedule from this point on, not necessarily anything related directly to them.”
Desmond Roland added 104 yards rushing and three TDs, and Jeremy Smith also ran for three scores as Oklahoma State broke the school record with nine rushing touchdowns — two more than in a 54-0 victory against UTEP in 1977 but still three shy of the NCAA record.
Corey Bennett provided the final score on a 10-yard TD run with 1:20 remaining.
“We was just running the ball. It wasn’t like we was trying to run up the score,” Randle said. “I don’t know what to say about it.”
After the opening quarter, the Cowboys took it relatively easy by using a slew of reserves from far down the depth chart. By the end of the third quarter, 94 different Oklahoma State players had taken the field.
There were 10 new starters on a team that lost stars Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon to the first round of the NFL draft after finishing last season ranked No. 3.
It ended up as the most lopsided victory for OSU since a 117-0 rout of Southwestern Oklahoma in 1916 and Savannah State’s worst loss since a 98-0 defeat against Bethune-Cookman in 1953, a season when the Tigers were outscored 444-6.
Lunt threw for 129 yards while playing only four offensive series, the only tuneup the freshman will get before a road trip to Arizona next week.
Not among the dozens of Oklahoma State players who participated was top returning receiver Tracy Moore, who was suspended one game after getting his third citation from police over a six-month span just over a week ago.