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“GAME! OVER! C-M-U!”: A recollection of the zany 2016 Central Michigan vs. Oklahoma State football game

Those involved in the game discuss the Hail Mary on the untimed down, the hook-and-ladder, and all the rulebook controversy in detail.

Central Michigan v Oklahoma State Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Central Michigan kicks off its 2022 campaign at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. If that scenario sounds familiar, it certainly is.

The year was 2016. The date was September 10. A blossoming college football season was just stepping foot into the water, and unbeknownst at the time, what was about to transpire in Stillwater would send shockwaves throughout the college football universe that afternoon and for months to come.

A quick scan of the box score suggests Central Michigan stormed into the residence of No. 22 Oklahoma State and pulled off a landmark upset. A further investigation of the play-by-play demonstrates the Chippewas won on a last-second downfield heave, but there’s more to the story than that.

It involves a comeback, a Hail Mary, a lateral, a misinterpretation of the rules, a bowl ring, and much more. In recognition of the upcoming rematch, here is the action-packed recollection of what went down in Stillwater when Central Michigan and Oklahoma State clashed on Sept. 10, 2016:

Dave Hunziker, Oklahoma State play-by-play announcer (2001-present): We had lots and lots of people back, so expectations were pretty high. We felt we would end up competing for a Big 12 title. 2015 had been to some degree kind of fantasy land in that we started 10-0, came from way behind to win several of those games, and was a team that just gained tremendous confidence and played better than it probably really was.

Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State center (2014-17): We were coming off the Sugar Bowl year and had a lot of talent coming back. Mason Rudolph was really experienced. We had a lot of firepower on offense. We had some good talent on defense as well. We really had an experienced team and had high hopes for that season.

Adam Jaksa, Central Michigan play-by play, sideline reporter, and host (2014-present): Central Michigan brought back a ton with Cooper [Rush] and [Tyler] Conklin and Devon Spalding was on that team. Their defense was pretty stout and just following the program for the last five, six years, [Oklahoma State] certainly seemed like a winnable game. CMU had played some Power Five opponents tough including the Cowboys the year before.

[Some background: Oklahoma State made the long trek to Mount Pleasant, Michigan for its season opener on Sept. 3, 2015, the first of three scheduled contests in a 1-for-2 arrangement. The homestanding Chippewas managed to secure a brief third quarter advantage, but two unanswered Cowboy touchdowns iced the game at 24-13. Oklahoma State wound up 10-3 that season, complete with a Sugar Bowl appearance, while Central Michigan finished 7-6. Both teams returned a myriad of contributors for 2016.]

John Bonamego, Central Michigan head coach (2015-18): We had a good team. We had a veteran team, a great quarterback in Cooper Rush who is still playing. We felt like if we could go in there and take care of the football and not make many mistakes and not have a lot of penalties and play a disciplined game, that we would have a chance.

Josh Cox, Central Michigan cornerback (2013-17): We were loaded. We had so many offensive weapons, defensive weapons. When we played them the first time, we for sure played a great game. We didn’t come out with a win but we knew that we could beat them. We lost a game that we should have won, so everybody wanted revenge.

Oklahoma State v Central Michigan Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Hunziker: We went up there for that opener. We weren’t nearly as good as we were first of November, but it was a close game, a very competitive game, but then again, if you have an NFL quarterback [in eventual UDFA Cooper Rush] that’s a big equalizer right there.

Lundblade: You take a little bit from the year before. We definitely respected them as an opponent, so I don’t think that was an issue. Coach Gundy does a really good job and the whole coaching staff does of preparing us throughout the week.

Hunziker: I think I knew and [Gundy] knew, it really wasn’t the best matchup. They wanted to play kind of a west coast offense — dink and dunk — and possess the ball. We wanted to play fast and score a lot of points.

Bonamego: The plane that we flew to Stillwater had ashtrays in the armrests. I’m old enough to remember when people could smoke on planes — that was probably when I was eight or nine years old. You remember the movie Major League? It reminded me of the planes they were traveling on. It doesn’t matter how you get there. It’s just what you do with the opportunity.

[The game between 1-0 opponents kicks off at 11 a.m. local time in front of 53,000 fans. Oklahoma State storms out to a 14-0 lead in front of a sea of orange and black, as Rudolph fires a pair of first quarter touchdown strikes.]

Hunziker: I remember it being a little easier than I thought it would be. I thought, 14-0, good shape, off to a good start against a team that really doesn’t want to play from behind.

Lundblade: That’s what the Gundy era has been known for over the last 15-20 years is explosive offenses. Whenever everything was clicking, it was really fun to play in it.

Cox: We were getting adjusted to the quick tempo. They were doing a little bit of hurry up and that rattled us and they were making a lot of chunk plays around the hurry up.

Central Michigan v Oklahoma State
Mason Rudolph captained Oklahoma State’s high-tempo offense as the starting quarterback from 2015-17. In 2017, he attained All-American status.
Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Bonamego: You can’t ride that emotional roller coaster. You have to keep playing. You can get behind in a game, you can ahead in a game. You just have to realize that you have to finish the game. Before you can win, you have to not beat yourself. We had a pretty resilient group and pretty confident group that felt like they could compete with anybody.

Hunziker: I said, if you get this to a three-score lead and force them to any type of clock crisis situation, you’ve got them.

Cox: Once we basically settled down, the coaches made adjustments. We were getting calls a lot faster and it allowed us to disguise things and give different looks to Mason Rudolph, which is why I think he slowed down in the second half.

[Central Michigan erases the 14-point deficit and knots the score at 17 by the middle of the third quarter. Tight end Tyler Conklin sparks the comeback by corralling two end zone receptions, including a spectacular one-handed grab on the game-tying touchdown.]

Jaksa: This was a time when Tyler Conklin wasn’t really known. This game really put him on the map with those two touchdowns and him just being a mismatch against the Cowboys.

Bonamego: Tyler and his ability to make plays in and around the goal line — he had a lot of really good catches throughout his career at Central. We were just fortunate that we had a good number of talented players on that football team and a good number are still playing in the NFL.

Central Michigan v Oklahoma State
Tyler Conklin scored each of Central Michigan’s first two touchdowns. The tight end tied for the team-lead in receptions with seven, complemented by 96 yards.
Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Lundblade: Earlier on in the season, you don’t have much of your opponent’s film to gameplan off of, so usually that’s when those halftime adjustments are a little more critical.

Hunziker: Now instead of it being a 60-minute-game, they’ve shrunk it. It’s only a 20-minute game. They only have to beat Oklahoma State by one point over 20 minutes and as an underdog, that’s where you want to be. The hard work’s done. You’ve kept up with the big favorite for three quarters, especially if you’re on the road.

[After Oklahoma State recaptures a 20-17 lead, Central Michigan flies down the field in the early-to-middle portion of the fourth quarter. Rush connects with Mark Chapman for 40 yards to convert a third-and-long. On the ensuing play, Rush takes another deep shot to running back/wide receiver Devon Spalding, whose 31-yard touchdown hands the Chippewas their first lead.]

Jaksa: It was at that point where I said, ‘I think we’re gonna win this game.’

Cox: It’s only a matter of time with all the guys we had. Once those two plays happened, it basically jump-started our offense and gave us energy on defense.

Jaksa: It was cool to be down there on the field with CMU’s supporters and on their bench, to hear them erupt, and the crowd with the lull murmur of, ‘Oh my goodness. We’re losing to Central Michigan.’ I don’t think a lot of those fans thought this was gonna be a blowout, but I still think they expected Oklahoma State to win comfortably, at least by 10-14 points.

[Oklahoma State glides down the field with high-tempo, in effort to retake the lead. But on first-and-goal from the five-yard line, Rudolph’s end zone fade directed toward James Washington gets undercut and intercepted by Cox.]

Cox: I was man-to-man on James Washington and the first thought that came into my head was that he’s a deep threat guy, a jump ball guy, and I’m gonna make him beat me on a route. I was playing fade and if he beat me on a slant, more power to him. Based on the formation, I was confident that the fade was coming and I was trying to look inside to see if the ball was coming high because he’s a jump ball guy, and Mason threw it short.

Hunziker: Red zone turnovers — I refer to them as ‘drop-dead turnovers’ — inside your opponent’s 30 or inside your own 30, you have literally just given points away. The reason I call them ‘drop-dead’ is when you commit those kind of things, you just want to fall over and drop dead because you just gave points away. Seldom in a game that late can you get away with that and not have pretty catastrophic consequences.

Cox: Oklahoma State was crazy. The fanbase was going insane thinking they were about to score and when I picked off the ball, it was dead silent. All you heard was our teammates going crazy.

Jaksa: I thought the game was over at that point. You always talk about there being four or five titanic plays throughout the game, when you break everything down, that kind of shift the momentum. Certainly the Spalding touchdown was one and then to see Oklahoma State drive down and Cox come up with the play there, it felt like for sure CMU was gonna win the game.

[Central Michigan’s offense retakes the field, and on the first play after the interception, Spalding coughs the ball up and Oklahoma State outside linebacker Devante Averette recovers at the 11-yard line.]

Cox: We had all that momentum. The defense was saying how the game was over, and the offense fumbled.

Lundblade: Anytime you have those crazy momentum shifts, it gives you a lot of fuel coming back onto the field, and obviously, you want to take advantage of us. It’s pretty rare to have back-to-back turnovers like that.

Jaksa: It’s a wild range of emotions from one play, interception, you feel like you’re gonna win. Then Oklahoma State gets the fumble and they’re right back in it.

Bonamego: You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. You can’t worry about the mistake you made or the great play you made on the play before because you have another play to play. That’s what we’ve always preached. Win the next down.

Hunziker: You just got a huge break. You could have been and should have been in huge trouble but now you’ve got a shot. The first thought that runs through your mind is, ‘You better not squander this one.’

[On a fourth-and-one near the goal line, Cowboys wide receiver Dillon Stoner lines up in shotgun, and Stoner flips the ball to a motioning James Washington on a gadget play. Washington wins the race to the left boundary for a two-yard touchdown. Then, a penalty flag decorates the field in the direction of wide receiver Chris Lacy. Lacy appeared to grab Cox’s right shoulder while blocking, but the referee subsequently picks up the flag with the statement, “There is no foul on the play for holding. The result of the play is a touchdown.”]

Hunziker: I remember being perplexed... There was a lot of it that day where it was just like, ‘Okay! Whatever!’

Jaksa: I remember Bono [Coach Bonamego] being upset on the holding call. I remember the coaching staff being furiously mad because there was a hold, they see the flag go down, and then it gets picked up because they’re just more mad about what happened.

Central Michigan v Oklahoma State
James Washington, winner of the 2017 Biletnikoff Award for nation’s best receiver, caught five passes for 69 yards that afternoon.
Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Bonamego: That’s one of those deals where, what are you going to do about it? You can be upset in the moment and shortly afterwards, but at some point, you’re gonna be counterproductive to yourself and to your team if you continue to worry about something that’s outside of your control. We should have made the tackle. You don’t want to leave it up to the judgment of an official.

Cox: I knew he was holding me. I was trying to get off. I saw the flag go, and when they picked it up, I was like, ‘Yeah. We’re away. Homefield advantage.’ I was mad of course but there was nothing I could do at the time.

[After a stellar outing, Rush tosses his lone interception of the afternoon to Oklahoma State free safety Ramon Richards. The Cowboys utilize several kneel downs to run out the final 3:10 of clock until it’s fourth-and-13 and four seconds remain. Ten Oklahoma State players create a tight wall around Rudolph, and the quarterback mails flings one last pass far down the left sideline and the clock strikes zero. D.J. Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” resonates throughout Boone Pickens Stadium and the scoreboard reads, ‘Final.’]

Jaksa: It felt like you let it get away. [Rush’s interception] is your second turnover in the last couple possessions after you had the lead, get the turnover, and basically the game’s in your hands. It certainly felt like at that point, game’s over. Close game. Battled tough, but CMU let this one get away.

Lundblade: We should have never been in that position in the first place, but we were. We called a timeout, went over to the sidelines, Coach Gundy basically said, ‘Hey Mason, take the snap, drop back, throw the ball out of bounds, and the game will be over.’ And to Coach Gundy’s credit, by the letter of the law, the way the rules were written, he was right.

Bonamego: You try to figure out, can they run out the clock? We knew that we would possibly get one more play and when they snapped the ball on fourth down with four seconds, I knew exactly what they were gonna do, which was drop back, throw the ball high and out of bounds. We had an all-out blitz to try to make that happen as fast as we could or maybe get lucky and get a sack.

Lundblade: You don’t always have time during the season to hammer in those types of scenarios, but usually once a day during training camp, we would practice some type of rare scenario. That’s actually one of the scenarios we would walk through during training camp — end of the game, three or four seconds left — trying to run the clock out.

Jaksa: I was down in the opposite corner. I was just waiting for the game to end and I’m just watching it from that vantage point down there by our tunnel. I was waiting down there and not sure if I was gonna go get the handshake and footage, especially after a loss, or just get Bono before he heads to the locker room.

[A cannon is fired to celebrate the victory while six referees simultaneously form a huddle. Then, 23 seconds after Rudolph’s lob hits the sideline, a flag is thrown with the explanation: “Intentional grounding, No. 2 was still in the pocket and there was no receiver in the area. There’s a loss of down foul at the spot of the foul and there will be one untimed down. First down, Central Michigan.”]

Lundblade: I remember there being all this discussion between the referees and we were like, ‘Hey what’s going on?’ We thought the game should be over.

Bonamego: I knew the clock had expired, but I actually called the officials over and said there’s no receiver in the area. It was the incorrect call. I’ll admit I did not know the rule. I was pretty adamant about it at that point in time, and I guess I was convincing enough to get them to make a decision to penalize them for grounding.

Hunziker: Nobody ever flags that. When they threw the flag, and I’ve been fortunate to go to several Big 12 officiating clinics... I remember thinking, ‘Wait a second. They never flag that.’ The bizarre nature of the call really threw us off. You just don’t see it called like that.

Central Michigan v Oklahoma State
The 2016 season marked Mike Gundy’s 12th season as head coach of Oklahoma State.
Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Lundblade: We were aware of the rules of the game being able to end on an offensive penalty. Why the referees weren’t, I’m not sure why it all came down to that. That was the first time and only time in my career that it ever came up, but that was something that we had walked through and planned for in the past.

Bonamego: My argument — or my contention — was there wasn’t a receiver anywhere near the facility. They ran that out of a tight formation and they threw the ball high and out-of-bounds. I’ve only seen it run and personally run it with a split receiver out there. So that was my argument on the sideline.

Hunziker: We were so consumed with just the bizarre nature of the call that it hadn’t even clicked that we could be dealing with a down that shouldn’t happen.

Lundblade: We were thinking it’s no big deal. I just remember thinking they were gonna drop back, do a Hail Mary, ball will be batted down. Game over.

[In front of a sold-out stadium, and now front-and-center under the lights of a national television audience as the late-afternoon and early-evening broadcast windows start to blend together, the Chippewas and Cowboys draw up their plays and shuffle back out onto the field.]

Hunziker: When they made that call and called intentional grounding, I turned to [KOTV sports director] John Holcomb and I said on the air, ‘I don’t have a good feeling about this.’ This just had a bad vibe to it.

Jaksa: You always think what could happen here. We’ve seen it before in the [2014] Bahamas Bowl. What is it gonna take? What could happen here? I wasn’t thinking Hail Mary and lateral like Bahamas, it was more of like, they’re at the 50-yard line. Cooper’s probably gonna be able to get this ball to the end zone. He’s gonna get some time, chuck it to the end zone, and hopefully that’s that.

Central Michigan v Oklahoma State Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Hunziker: Coach Gundy, even before 2015 was a big fan of Cooper Rush. He told me, ‘This guy will play in the NFL. There’s no doubt. This guy is pretty darn good. Most people don’t know it.’

[Central Michigan’s offense takes the field from its own 49-yard line. Rush, facing a 5-man pass rush, steps into a throw and delivers a jump ball to six-foot-three wide receiver Jesse Kroll nine yards short of glory. While Kroll is in the process of being taken down, he flips the ball to trailing wide receiver Corey Willis. Willis sprints the length of the field horizontally, racing Oklahoma State cornerback Ashton Lampkin to the left corner of the end zone. Willis barely edges Lampkin, making a diving extension for the goal line and crosses the plane. A raucous Central Michigan sideline gathers around the end zone to celebrate.]

Bonamego: Jesse Kroll and Cooper Rush were on the field. Those guys certainly remembered [their 2014 Bahamas Bowl time-expiring Hail Mary and lateral sequence]. That was a dramatic play and the guy that doesn’t get enough credit who was the key man in both was Jesse Kroll. Jesse was the guy that makes the first catch and really gets the thing started.

Cox: With Coop, while we were in college together, it wasn’t our first time. We’d been here before. Everybody had that confidence when we had done it already in the Bahamas Bowl. We knew Jesse was gonna catch the ball because Jesse was gonna go up and go get it. Once I saw Corey had the ball in his hands, I was like, ‘Oh yeah! Here we go!’

Bonamego: The commentary, they were talking about how Cooper Rush couldn’t reach the end zone from where he was at. I don’t think that’s true. They were layered on the goal line as they should be. He just took an opportunity to complete the ball short of the end zone to at least get an opportunity. We just called our Hail Mary.

Jaksa: I couldn’t really believe what was happening because I was watching through a camera. Corey Willis is running directly at me. It’s hard to fathom — one, make sure you get the shot, and two, oh my gosh, is this really happening. He has a legit angle to get to the end zone.

Central Michigan v Oklahoma State
Corey Willis, after a nine-yard run on the lateral from Jesse Kroll, rolls over into the endzone, securing CMU a wild 30-27 victory over Oklahoma State.
Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Bonamego: I’d like to sit here and tell you that’s how we practiced it and we knew that was gonna happen, but that’s just not true. We did say don’t go down with the ball in your hand. It’s a last-ditch deal so it’s gonna be incomplete, touchdown, or turnover. Those were really the only three outcomes of that play that could possibly happen.

Cox: I felt like I was in a dream watching it all. It was like going in slow motion. It felt like a dream because when everything is happening and going in slow motion, it was so quiet in there that you would have thought no fans were there. You could drop a quarter or nickel and hear it rattling on the ground and it was just us going crazy in this random opponent’s field across the country.

Jaksa: [Cornerback] Amari Coleman had a bandana. He’s waving it around. All across that end zone on the south side of Boone Pickens Stadium was all CMU. That’s where you felt the dull sadness of the stadium.

Central Michigan v Oklahoma State
Amari Coleman and the Chippewas celebrate at Boone Pickens Stadium after Corey Willis scores the time-expiring touchdown.
Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Bonamego: By the time I turned around, it seemed like the stands were empty. They did review it to make sure he crossed the goal line, but by the time we were done celebrating on the field, I don’t remember there being anyone else in that stadium.

Hunziker: Within probably a minute after this is over, [ESPN anchor John Anderson] calls. I thought he wanted to talk about the game, but I also thought, ‘Maybe I have to take this,’ because he never calls me like that. He’s not an emotional reactive type. He said to me, ‘You need to turn on FOX right now. They screwed up that last play big time... You’ve got a major issue. That play shouldn’t have happened.’

[FOX Sports’ rule analyst Mike Pereira becomes the first member of the broadcast team to declare Central Michigan’s miracle Hail Mary should have never happened. Rule 3, Section 2, Article 3.a.1 states: “The period is not extended if the foul is by the team in possession and the statement of the penalty includes loss of down.”]

Hunziker: I immediately communicate with our sideline guy Robert Allen and was like, ‘Robert, Anderson called and Pereira is saying on FOX that play shouldn’t have ever happened.’ He has a bench pass. He goes immediately to Gundy and says they screwed that last play up — it shouldn’t have happened. By that time, for the most part, teams had pretty much left the field. I know Central Michigan had.

Bonamego: Right before I went into the press conference, our sports information director [Rob Wyman] told me. It was like getting kicked in the stomach. You don’t ever really want to win a game like that, but it wasn’t like we cheated. It wasn’t like we did anything underhanded. It was an honest mistake.

Hunziker: I always have a PDF file, if not a hard copy of the rulebook. I totally trust Pereira, but I wanted to see for myself so I could read the rule to the listener so that they would hear it verbatim from the rulebook, which I did. Then you’re thinking there has to be a way to remedy this, but there wasn’t.

Cox: The referee picked up a lot of flags throughout the game. He called calls on us that I believe weren’t as fair, but at the end of the day, we had to line up and we still had to play. We had to make those crucial stops to get us to that point. You can complain about the call, but the odds of us making that play are slim-to-none.

Lundblade: The last thing we ever want to do is blame the referees, blame the officials, blame anyone else other than ourselves. We have to take ownership and we have to play better to where it doesn’t come down to that situation. That was Coach Gundy’s message to us.

Bonamego: I sympathize with the Oklahoma State faithful and that’s a fantastic place. I think the world of Coach Gundy. He’s a class act and one of the truly really great people in our profession.

Hunziker: I have the distinction of covering the “fifth-down” game between Missouri and Colorado and the Central Michigan ghost down in 2016. I think I’m the only one that’s done that, so when it comes to bizarre, off-the-wall finishes in college football, I’ve covered maybe two of the all-time greats.

[The only action taken postgame involved discipline for the referees. The eight-person on-field MAC officiating crew and the two-person Big 12 replay officiating crew both faced two-game suspensions for their handling of the situation. Yet, the result in Stillwater remained a 30-27 victory in favor of Central Michigan.]

Hunziker: Having gone to the officiating clinic, I know how badly those officials want to get it right. It means everything to them, that they take great pride and tremendous responsibility for being the stewards of the game. It’s hard to be remotely critical of them. As much as anything, it was such an off-the-wall sequence and such an off-the-wall error in rules application. I can’t believe that happened.

Lundblade: In the back of your mind, you think there’s maybe going to be some change [in the result] or whatever, but it wasn’t something we were hanging our hats on or planning for. It was more of let’s get back to practice, let’s get back to getting better, and let’s get back to winning games.

Bonamego: I saw some of the stuff that was written. I got a bunch of emails, questioning my integrity and that stuff saying I should forfeit the game. To me that’s laughable.

Central Michigan v Michigan State
John Bonamego qualified for three bowl games in four seasons at Central Michigan. He finished his stint 1-2 against AP Top 25 opponents.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Jaksa: The game had already happened. When the game hits zero and the referees leave the field, it’s official. Seeing it again after the fact and understanding that the play probably shouldn’t have happened, you feel a little like well, maybe they didn’t deserve to win that game. At the end of the day, the officials made the call. I give CMU a ton of credit for taking advantage of the opportunity and executing that final play.

Hunziker: I was angry because I couldn’t believe a mistake of that magnitude could happen. I didn’t even go home after the game, and that’s highly unusual for me. It’s the only time in my career I’ve ever done that. I went to the golf course, got a beer, and I vented. I was thinking, ‘How on earth can this happen?’

Bonamego: Our kids worked their asses off and competed their asses of 60 minutes. They were able to go into a Big 12 stadium against a nationally ranked opponent and hang in there for 60 minutes. When the chips were on the table at the very end, they found a way to make a play to win the game. How do you as a coach stand up in front of your team and say we’re gonna forfeit this game?

Hunziker: Humans make mistakes. I came to realize as time went along, there’s no place to go with it. There’s no central governing body over college football, there’s no commissioner, there’s no place to go. So it just kind of stuck.

Jaksa: It was a win for Central Michigan and one of the greatest wins in this program’s history and one of the craziest finishes Central Michigan football will ever have.

Bonamego: It’s been however many years and I still kind of pinch myself and say, ‘Did that really happen?’

[Defeating Oklahoma State was the defining moment of Central Michigan’s season. After a stellar 3-0 start, the Chippewas dropped seven of their final 10 contests to finish 6-7. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State surged in the aftermath and won eight of its final nine — including a 38-8 Alamo Bowl rout over Colorado. The Cowboys finished ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll and received bowl rings in recognition of their triumph in San Antonio. The rings generated plenty of attention when unveiled in April 2017 because an 11-2 record was etched into the side, instead of the official mark of 10-3.]

Cox: The only problem I had with this thing was when they got those rings at the end of the year, counting that as a win and not as a loss. There’s times where things are stacked against you, you take an ‘L,’ and you take it on the chin.

Lundblade: I’m not sure whose decision it was to put that on the ring, but I thought it was a nice little touch.

Hunziker: There were a lot of different reactions to that.

Lundblade: At the end of the day, it goes down in the record books as a loss. I don’t know if you call it a moral victory or not, but I guess in some people’s minds, they still call it a win.

Jaksa: I get it. I understand that they felt like they got cheated in that game and that shouldn’t have happened. At the end of the day it was counted as a loss. It’s just like any other game when you have a controversial call that you may not agree with that directly impacts the game. That’s part of your record. That’s part of your team that season.

[For the first time since that fateful afternoon in Stillwater, Oklahoma State and Central Michigan appear on each other’s schedules. The Cowboys and Chippewas will run it back on Thursday, Sept. 1 as the 2022 season opener — in the same venue where all the chaos unfolded six years prior.]

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Missouri
One key player to watch in Central Michigan’s upcoming rematch against Oklahoma State is running back Lew Nichols, who led the nation in rushing last season.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Cox: I’m sure [Gundy’s] got this one checked on his schedule.

Jaksa: For Oklahoma State, you’re gonna want some revenge. The road team won both games in this series. They feel like that result shouldn’t have happened in 2016. CMU found a way to win. Mike Gundy and the ring controversy — he’s still there. It takes a little bit out of it with the players being different and there’s a new head coach in Jim McElwain at CMU.

Lundblade: The way Coach Gundy prepares guys, I don’t think they’re viewing this as a revenge game. I don’t think they’re viewing this as different than any other opponent.

Hunziker: I’ve not heard, anyone as I meander about Stillwater, bringing up the fact that we’re starting with Central Michigan and saying, ‘I remember when that happened in 2016.’ I have not had a single person at the grocery store, at the golf course, or at church bring that up. No one has brought that up, which to be honest, has surprised me.

Jaksa: To see that game being played back at the same spot where that crazy ending happened, it’s one of those like, ‘How many times are they gonna talk about it or show that replay on Thursday night’s broadcast on Fox Sports 1?’

Special thanks to John Bonamego [who now is a senior special teams analyst at Iowa State], Josh Cox [who is currently with Panasonic Impulse in Japan’s X-League], Dave Hunziker, Adam Jaksa [who took over as Central Michigan’s play-by-play broadcaster in 2020], and Brad Lundblade [who spent four seasons in the NFL] for participating in interviews for this feature.

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