It wasn't easy, but the Oklahoma State Cowboys beat Texas Tech at their own game in one of those generic, 89-point Big 12 conference matches. This game didn't do anything to silence the haters who believe no one in the Big 12 plays any defense. Both teams rank outside the top 100 nationally in total defense after all. Luckily for Oklahoma State, Texas Tech played about the same amount of defense as the Cowboys but fell victim to a special-teams gaffe to clinch its own demise.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph remained on track in a big way, building off of his success over the last few weeks. The previous week, he threw his first interceptions since September. Against the Red Raiders, Rudolph was 20-of-28 for a sparkling 395 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, Tech has one of the worst defenses in the country, meaning a bounce-back was all but required for Rudolph. If he hadn't slung the ball all around the field, it would be cause for concern.
The running game also had free rein to do whatever it wanted. Justice Hill and Chris Carson combined for 199 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, on just 28 total carries. Each averaged at least 7.0 yards per carry in the game. Playing Texas Tech allows everyone on offense to feel great about themselves afterward. It's uplifting.
Of course, the opposite is true for the defense. It is nearly impossible to stop Pat Mahomes and the Red Raider offense. They lead the country in passing, are third in scoring, are the very best team on first downs, and are the second-best on third downs. Everything moves fast, works well, and keeps coming.
Mahomes was held in check only in the sense that it took him 51 attempts to reach 344 yards. Otherwise, Texas Tech did whatever it wanted as well. Tech poured in nine unanswered points in the final period. Unfortunately, it was down 10 entering the fourth and missed the game-tying extra point with under two minutes remaining in the game. Killer kickers strike again.
Oklahoma State, with the survival, is set up perfectly. With the College Football Playoff world collapsing all around them, the Cowboys have a semi-realistic chance here at one of the four prestigious playoff spots if things fall correctly. They are currently a game out of first in the Big 12 and 13th in the nation, but the first-place team, Oklahoma, remains on schedule. Having already defeated West Virginia, winning out means winning the conference title and putting OSU in the national discussion at 10-2.
Having a plan is different from executing a plan, though. Oklahoma State will have a lot of trouble in attempting to shut down the offenses of TCU and Oklahoma, the two teams left on its schedule. If the Tech game is any indication, shootouts aren't always won by the best offense or even the defense that hangs on one more time than its counterpart. Sometimes it's something else that swings the outcome. A few more of those somethings-else and OSU could be playoff-bound.