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Unsung Hero: Week 11

In the final home game of the year, this Cowboy filled in a starting role and thrived.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardiac Cowboys struck again on Saturday, pulling out a razor thin win 45-44 against Texas Tech. It took a missed extra point for the Cowboys to be able to ice the victory. Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week Mason Rudolph had another stellar game, out playing the No. 1 passer in the nation in Patrick Mahomes. Justice Hill added his 4th 100-yard rushing performance of the season (an OSU record), and James Washington proved once again that he is one of the best deep threats in the nation. The defense was tough to watch at times, but they got big stops when they needed them. At the end of the day, a win is a win, and the Pokes still control their own destiny in the Big 12 title race.

My unsung hero this week is not a regular starter, he normally will play backup reps at linebacker. This week, Justin Phillips filled in for an injured Chad Whitener at middle linebacker and had what was his best game in an OSU uniform. Phillips is my unsung hero this week. He had 14 tackles (9 solo), one sack, and one tackle for loss. His sack was a big one because it forced TTU into a 3rd down and long. He came untouched and lit up Mahomes for a big loss.

To be able to come in and produce in a big way replacing a starter is not only a nod to Phillips for preparing like a starter during practice, but also to the coaches for putting him in a position to succeed. Whitener has helped anchor the defense throughout the whole season, so Phillips had big shoes to fill guarding the middle of the field for four quarters. Along with Phillips, 17 other non-defensive starters played as well. This is a testament to the amount of depth and experience OSU has at every position. This will feed well into next year as some big names are graduating. The drop off in experience will not be as steep as I anticipated at the beginning of the season. Players like Justin Phillips will help lead the Cowboys defense next year, and hopefully the defense will improve on the 2016 season.