Does it have to be over? I could've watched what took place this past Saturday in Stillwater over and over and over again. As a matter of fact, as I'm sitting here writing this article, the replay is on the TV because why not, right?
For the first time this season, everything that Gundy and Co., has been verbally making of this team finally showed up in physical form on the field. We've all heard it: "(insert name) had a great week of practice," "This team is incredibly talented..." "just need to transition the things we're doing on the practice field into the game."
I'll be honest: I was beginning to think Gundy was trying to prove even to himself that what he was saying was true. All of the hype for this team during the Summer - specifically on the offensive side of the ball - had yet to come close to the product we'd seen on the field through the first eight games of the season. It was sporadic, at best. With a big helping of luck and @Big12Refs to aid in a few of the Cowboys' wins. Little by little, though, the offense has continued to improve while the star-studded defense has continued to keep the team in games. As the season has played out, the offense hasn't always looked high powered, but they have looked confident.
That's something I talked about in my preview last week. The confidence in this team never waivers. And my goodness, did it ever show on Saturday. I feel like it would be easy to be a bit intimidated by TCU; All-American talent all over their roster, Heisman candidate QB, Biletnikoff award quality receiver, tons of speed, reigning Big 12 co-champions. The list goes on and on. That never phased Oklahoma State and it showed in every phase of the game.
I'll get to the defense in a moment (how could you not?) but first I want to congratulate the offense. All year they have been one of the biggest eye-sores in the Big 12. People keep asking me why I thought OSU wasn't championship quality and I would quickly show them clip after clip of what has been a somewhat abysmal offense. I've come to realize something though: the offense is actually quite efficient. They just aren't what we, as fans, have grown accustomed to over the last five or so years. Think about this: for as bad and slow and terrible and frustrating and...I should probably stop there shouldn't I? Whatever word you have used for what this offense has been, they actually HAVE been pretty solid. They are averaging over 40 points a game. That's quite impressive for a team that sometimes looks like they struggle to move past midfield. But on the biggest stage so far this season, they surpassed everyone's expectations (besides maybe their own.)
I'm still watching the replay on TV and J.W. Walsh just checked into the game for the first time. It can be frustrating to watch because it seems like that would throw off the rhythm of the offense. At certain times during the game, particularly the second half, it did. But that first series that used Walsh resulted in a touchdown because it threw off the opposing defense in such a great way. The TCU defense got into that "oh the runner is in" mentality and then boom, Rudolph throws two quick passes and the Pokes go up 21-9 a minute and a half into the second quarter. It's beautiful in a Tim Burton sort of way; surprisingly good but makes you cringe at times. Michael Yurcich has a tendency to throw all his cards on the table in the big games. He did that and then some on Saturday. He let Mason Rudolph do everything we expect him to do: career high five touchdown tosses and 352 passing yards. Five touchdowns in a game, by the way, is good enough for third in program history behind Josh Fields and some 30 year old that played here, once upon a time. They only ended up with 81 rushing yards (do we really expect anything better, at this point?) but I think that has a lot to do with the overwhelming success of the passing game. Plus it seemed like they were content on slowing down after the midway point in the third quarter. Otherwise, they could have broken 70 points in consecutive times for the first time in...ever.
Worth noting that Rudolph has 2,834 passing yards which is just 311 yards short of the Sophomore school record 3,145 that Josh Fields set in 2002 . With at least 4 games left in the season, think that'll be another accolade to add to his resume? I do.
Now the defense. Man, they sure are overrated, aren't they? Or at least that's what national media would have you believe. All year I've heard all the noise just like you have. 'They haven't played anybody, therefore their defensive numbers are skewed.' Uhhh excuse me? By that rationale, Baylor's offense isn't very good either. But you'll never hear a soul utter those words. So why is this OSU defense any different? They are in the top-10 of every major defensive statistic. Doesn't seem like they're overrated to me. As the saying goes: "It's time to put up or shut up." That's what the defense did on the biggest stage of the season, to date. I live in enemy territory: Norman. I was sitting at a local bar after the game. The OU game was on and the OU fans were their typical rowdy selves. I overheard an OU fan say "I still say OSU is [terrible]. They gave up over 650 yards to TCU."
Why yes, my very stereotypical Sooner fan friend, you are correct. But let's remember a very important fact: TCU ran 113 (!) offensive plays on Saturday. For the stat lovers, that's good for third most ever in a game and second most in a regulation game. Also good enough for 59 more offensive plays than OSU ran. That's a long time for an opposing defense to be on the field. Especially when they are trying to guard a team that runs a play on average every 17 seconds. That's certainly not official but what I timed over the course of three quarters from Saturday's game. The Cowboy defense never gave up. They even intercepted and returned a Boykin pass that sent the TCU fans heading for the parking lot en masse. Also, here's my take: I don't care if you have 1,000 yards of offense and go up and down the field on a rocket ship. If my team's defense forces your QB - that only had 5 interceptions coming into the game - to throw 4 and makes a game clinching goal line stand after your offense had the chance to score three times from inside the one yard line...I'll take that defense seven days a week.
The Oklahoma State defense is special in a historical way. They are actually much better, statically, than the 2011 squad. The guy that coaches them is something special as well. Pay him all the monies. Give him all the fried chicken.
Keep this up for three, possibly five (!), more games and you'll have the entire Cowboy family bringing you fried chicken by the barrel, coach.
Great game. Great fans. Great atmosphere. Great team. Great confidence.
Great, fantastic, stunning, amazing, breathtaking win. 9-0.
On to Ames.