During the first quarter against Texas Tech, the above title was going to read much different regarding how to treat Oklahoma State. That was before it ran away with a 70-53 victory.
That angle was going to be about how the Cowboys have finally been exposed after a string of close wins, in part to referee gaffes.
The serious “juju” at Lubbock that our friend at SB Nation’s Viva the Matadors, Hunter Cooke, talks about weekly was in full swing as the Red Raiders were leading 24-7 late into the first quarter. This looked like the underdog team that almost derailed TCU a few weeks ago, but rather than running stride-for-stride with the Horned Frogs, Kliff Kingsbury’s crew was in one gear higher than the Cowboys for the time being.
Speed was killing the Pokes. Jakeem Grant was performing at an All-American level, while Pat Mahomes was operating the offense at full capacity as well.
Whether the struggles of the Cowboys were due to playing in Lubbock or just simply being outpaced was beside the point.
Texas Tech has a fantastic offense, an offense that ranks fifth in ESPN’s Football Power Index. Considering TCU and Baylor rank as the top two teams in the nation in regards to their offense, being a step behind won’t cut it in the upcoming month. Oklahoma State still has to play — though at home — three of the nation’s top 15 offenses (Oklahoma being the other).
That must have been Mike Gundy’s halftime speech, as the second half showed a rejuvenated Cowboys offense that we have not seen this year. A team that was running with the afterburners on at the start of every snap.
Mistakes were made, of course, but the Pokes operated just as Gundy had expected coming out of the locker room for the second half during the ESPN broadcast. He said they needed to just keep the balance that was starting to emerge at the tail end of the first half, and noted that running would be pivotal.
The Cowboys showed a new creative side that will be welcomed against the likes of crafty teams like Baylor. Backup J.W. Walsh has found his calling in the offense the past couple of weeks, and finished the day with 80 yards rushing, 167 yards passing and three touchdowns—his best performance of the year.
But even Mason Rudolph was used in unique sets, including a reverse-option pass. While that was only good for seven yards, it was after that play that the Texas Tech defense began playing on its toes a little more — and suddenly the game started tipping in the Cowboys favor.
Gundy ran another reverse pass that ended in a touchdown from Austin Hays in the first quarter, as well.
Once Texas Tech closed the gap with under five minutes to go, at 56-53, Walsh connected with James Washington who then turned on the jets for the longest play of the season. He ran for a 73-yard score. With TCU coming to Stillwater next week, it was important to instill the confidence that the Cowboys are capable of busting out big plays. They also scored on a 67-yard punt return. The Horned Frogs have five scores of 55 yards or longer…
Even though the Cowboys surrendered 53 points, that was only one point fewer than TCU allowed while playing in Lubbock. That should be enough to hang your hat on if you’re Oklahoma State. That, and closing out the game with a 59-yard pick six.
While running away from this trap game by a wider margin would have been nice considering the playoff committee, in the long-term, this win has to make upcoming opponents feel a little more nervous.
The Cowboys showed they know how to dictate the pace of the game.