The numbers were all there. Numbers we expected, some we hoped for.
· Held Kansas State under 200 yards rushing;
· Held KState under 40% on 3rd down conversions...they were averaging over 50% in Big 12 play;
· Lost the TOP battle 37:52 to 22:08;
· Gave up almost 300 yards passing;
· The Wildcats only scored 3 OFFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS, and 2 of those followed OSU turnovers;
· Forced KState to punt on consecutive possessions for only the 5th time in Big 12 play;
· KState’s defense gave up a score (TD) for the first time in Big 12 play on a drive of 7 or fewer plays;
· Knocked Collin Klein out of the game in the 3rd quarter;
But then came a number we didn’t expect…
· 5 turnovers…and unfortunately, they didn’t belong to the Wildcats
Throw in a 100 yard KO return for a TD, a pick 6 on one of the turnovers, and suddenly this wasn’t the night we had hoped for.
Yet, even after 4 of the 5 turnovers, pick 6, and the kick return TD, the Cowboys were still in position to pull off the improbable in the 4th quarter.
Apparently, at that moment, the special teams coverage unit decided they wanted a little more of the credit for the loss.
Let’s set the mood…
· 9:47 left in the 3rd quarter;
· OSU, who was just driving for a score to make it 31-24, suffers from Lunt’s 3rd interception of the game on the KState 7 yard line;
· The Cowboy defense, pretty good all night, definitely good enough to win, allowed an Klein to drive the Wildcats 93 yards for a TD, with 77 of those yards coming via the PASS;
· Score 38-17 KState;
In steps OSU’s 3rd STRING QB, with Lunt apparently suffering from a concussion on the last interception. Said 3rd string QB promptly drives the Cowboys downfield, unlike any previous drive that night, slinging the ball all over the place.
Lining up to go for it on 4th and 1at the KState 21 (after a questionable spot on a Charlie Moore reception), on a night when penalties were NOT an issue, OSU gets a 5 yard false start...4th and 6...enter Quinn Sharp for a succesful FG.
Score 38-20 with 7 minutes still left in the 3rd quarter;
Little did OSU fans know that this game was WELL within reach at this point.
Re-enter special teams.
On a night when Quinn Sharp inexplicably couldn’t kick the ball out of the end zone, the Cowboys decided to "squib" it after the FG. KState ends up with the ball at their 40 yard line.
Field flipped, and Collin Klein is out of the game.
After KState downs a punt at the OSU 1, Monken predictably goes into conservative mode, running on 2 out of the 3 downs, AND 1ST DOWN WAS A PASS!
Then more special teams contributions…this time from an unexpected place. Sharp whiffs a punt, giving the Wildcats the ball at the OSU 38. One short drive later, KState adds a FG to make the score 41-20, beginning of the 4th quarter.
Game over, right?
Re-enter 3rd string QB, who whips the KState secondary into a fine froth in driving OSU for a TD in less than 2 minutes. Score 41-27, with 13:06 left in the game, and we now know that KState is relying on their backup QB.
Except we still need to kickoff.
Here comes what I think was the poorest decision of the game.
A pooch kick, which KState returns 60 yards to set up a short field, and another KState FG. Why not kick it deep? Sharp lost his leg?
Re-enter 3rd string QB, who drives OSU for a makeup FG in less than 2 minutes. KState 44-30, and almost 9 minutes still left in the game. The Cowboys are now moving the ball at will.
Now Sharp kicks it deep. No return, KState’s ball at their own 25 with a backup QB who isn’t much of a passer.
Enter the defense, who has, up to this point, played admirably.
I say "up to this point" because it is now the 4th quarter, and they have to be getting a bit tired. Bill Young decides to COMPLETELY sell out to stop the run, and of course the Wilcats throw the ball on two of the first 3 plays, moving quickly and easily into FG territory.
Game over, right?
KState misses a chip shot FG attempt.
Game still on.
Chelf (3rd string QB) quickly drives the Cowboys downfield, converting 4th downs on a pass and a penalty. But his heroics came to an end when he tried to force, and slightly underthrew, a fade to a well covered Blake Jackson in the end zone with about 2 minutes left. Turnover #5.
Game now officially over.
Say whatever you want about the stats. The lack of rushing yards had more to do with the game getting out of hand and OSU playing from behind early. Don’t bash the defense. They allowed 23 offensive points (7 came after a turnover, but they let KState drive 93 yards after that interception, so that’s on them).
Kansas State scored 21 points on a short field turnover, a pick 6, and a kickoff return. Four turnovers and a kick return TD in less than 2 ½ quarters of play.
And OSU still had a shot.
Turnovers and special teams coverage. Hallmarks of youth and, dare I say, coaching.
For me, game balls go to the defense, who definitely played well enough against the #2 team in the country to win; Charlie Moore; and obviously Clint Chelf.
Justin Gilbert should be relegated to kickoff returns and backup CB duty. Josh Stewart had a relatively quiet night until Chelf came in. Blake Jackson was not that impactful.
Give credit to Kansas State. They are well coached, and don't make costly mistakes. The missed FG and PI penalty on the Cowboys' last drive were about the closest thing to Wildcat errors all night. They play physical and to their strengths, and Klein has definitely improved his passing. The big question mark now, however, is Klein. What is the nature of his injury? Some speculated on his right wrist, others mentioned his neck and head. Snyder was obviously mum on the topic after the game. Is there a worse "game" interview than Snyder? He's downright annoyed that he has to talk to anybody.
For those of you wondering about Lunt, in my opinion he should be a backup for the rest of the season. He won’t be back for at least a week from his concussion, maybe longer. Chelf should take OSU home this season, and depending on what we see, he just might be the guy to handle next year.
The Cowboys should win 3 more games this year. West Virginia and Tech at home the next two weeks should be victories. Baylor in Waco shouldn’t be an issue. The Sooners in Norman will be an issue.
And speaking of Chelf, here’s my crazy theory…
Gundy may have pulled a double Cate in 2012.
Remember when the coaches spoke eloquently about how Weeden never showed them anything in practice that would have indicated what he was about to accomplish?
Enter Clint Chelf, with TWO years of tutelage under the greatest QB to ever play at OSU. His high school coach talked about how he didn’t seem to have "it," but when he got in the game he was a different person. Remember the rumored tantrum he had in Monken’s office after the game in Lawrence? This guy has fire in his belly.
This, of course, is pure speculation, and is dependent upon his performance the rest of this season. Maybe we’ll see why they didn’t pick Chelf to start…or maybe we’ll see that Weeden Jr was actually once again loitering in 3rd string purgatory.