You’ve slept it off and had a chance to digest what took place in McLane Stadium. Lucky for both of us, I have too, and I have quite a bit to say. This was a gut-punch. No way around it. The game was right there for the taking on multiple occasions, and OSU failed to keep Baylor down on the mat.
Oklahoma State turned the ball over four times against Baylor last night, and all of them were of the back-breaking variety. Two trips inside the Baylor five yard line and returning zero points on investment doomed OSU to a heartbreaking loss.
All is not lost, though. Is the Big 12 title out of reach? Probably, but not quite. If OSU can muster a win against Texas next week, it should allow the Cowboys to at least feel like there is something to play for in the coming weeks. There is a lot to be excited about, too. Let’s go ahead and jump in to some thoughts I have on last night’s game.
- Let’s talk about the game plan last night. It was genius. OSU was not going to be able to hang around with Baylor by playing their typical style of game. The coaches knew this (thankfully), and they executed a game plan that, quite honestly, I didn’t think they had in them. They went ground-and-pound all night, and dominated the time of possession. We should be excited that the running game is even good enough to execute that style of game plan, which leads me to...
- I thought the running game was fantastic last night. No, they weren’t gashing Baylor for ten yards at a time. They were, however, ridiculously efficient. The Cowboys ran the ball a staggering 55 times for an average of 3.9 YPC. That’s not out-of-this-world good, but it was certainly good enough to win this game.
- Turnovers. My goodness. Last week, OSU shot themselves in the foot and allowed Pitt to hang around because of turnovers. This week, they did the same thing. Only this time, it cost them a win. I tweeted this at halftime last night, and little did I know that two more back-breaking turnovers had OSU’s name written on them.
Two massive turnovers loom large for #okstate. They overcame them against Pitt, will be harder to tonight.— CRFF (@CowboysRFF) September 25, 2016
- The secondary deserves some flack. That 99.5-yard drive in the 4th quarter was, quite simply, not good. The secondary played pretty poorly for most of the night last night, allowing touchdown passes of 89, 38, 38 and 15 yards. I know Baylor probably has the most potent aerial attack in the conference, but still, there’s too much experience on the corners for Oklahoma State to look like that all night. The defensive line held Baylor to under four yards per carry, however, and there should be some excitement over that.
Through four weeks, #OKState has allowed the second-most pass plays of 30+ yards in the country (12). Only Rice has given up more.— Mark Cooper (@mark_cooperjr) September 25, 2016
- Justice Hill was tremendous. If he’s not your starting running back next week, I don’t know what it will take. Fumbles aside, he was electric. He nearly put the team on his back for a monstrous win in Waco last night on a couple determined runs. Here they are, via Pistols Firing Blog.
And on the very next play, Hill nearly housed it on a play that looked like it was going nowhere. Let's not talk about what happened after.
- We do have to address the fumbles, though. Joe Randle had the same problem throughout his career at Oklahoma State. Freshman are going to make freshman mistakes and he made a couple costly mistakes on Saturday. The turnovers, however, should not slant your view on Justice Hill. I said last night that two fumbles don't change the fact that he is the best running back on this team, and he's got an immensely bright future in front of him. He brings an extra burst that just doesn't exist anywhere else in the Oklahoma State backfield.
Gundy: I love (Hill) and we're going to keep playing him, but he needs to take care of the ball. #okstate— Mark Cooper (@mark_cooperjr) September 25, 2016
- Mason Rudolph played a fantastic game last night. He made play after play to keep his team in the game. He didn't have atouchdown pass last night, but he didn't have to. He did exactly what he needed to in order to win the game. I'm not sure I've seen him look that calm in the pocket during his career at OSU. Also, that scamper he had on 3rd-and-23 to pick up the first down had me doubled over in public, requesting water and a protein bar.
- I've seen a lot of people pinning this loss on Mike Yurcich or Glenn Spencer. I'm sure I will get some blowback for this, but I'm not surshow you could've watched that game and thought, "IF ONLY YURCICH WOULD'VE CALLED A BETTER GAME!!!!!1!111!" No, he wasn't perfect. But they executed a game plan that should've won them a massive Big 12 game on the road. This game comes down to turnovers and blown coverages in the secondary. Clean that up, and OSU should be a force in the coming weeks.
- There is reason to be excited for this team. It looks like the offensive line is starting to figure it out. OSU ran for over 200 yards against a stout opponent for the first time since what feels like 2006. If the offensive line can figure some stuff out and the running game can keep improving week to week, OSU should be right there at the end of the season with a chance for the Big 12 title.
- There's also reason to look ahead to the coming seasons. Yes, the one we are in is quite young, but think about this for a second ... In 2017, OSU returns the entire offensive line (sans Victor Salako). Mason Rudolph and James Washington will most definitely benefit from another season in Stillwater, Tyron Johnson joins the team, and you get OU, Baylor and TCU at home. Keep an eye on this season, because they can still accomplish their goals, but there is plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future of Oklahoma State Football. Maybe more reasons than ever.
- Students, go to the dang Texas game next week. I know there will be some hesitation for an 11 A.M. kickoff (don't get me started on that), but it's the marquee home game this season, and you can make life really hard on Texas. I'll be there, and you should too.
- If you're feeling low this morning and are in need of some added perspective, remember that it really is just a game. Baseball lost a rising superstar in Jose Fernandez, just hours after announcing that he and his wife were expecting a baby. He was 24.
Keep up with CRFF this week, as we will have plenty of coverage on this week's game against Texas.