After last week’s demoralizing loss that ended the Cowboys’ Big 12 Championship dreams, many wondered how the Mike Gundy’s team would respond. After all, they had already clinched bowl eligibility and there wasn’t else much to play for. However, Mason Rudolph didn’t let his team come out flat on his Senior Day.
Oklahoma State received the ball first, and proceeded to march 74 yards down the field in seven plays to open the game with a touchdown. The drive - which took only 2:55 off the clock - was highlighted by a 54-yard pass to Marcell Ateman and Rudolph himself took it in from the 1-yard line on fourth down for the score.
It was all Cowboys after that. Mike Yurcich’s offense scored on six of its seven drives in the first half (not counting the end-of-half kneeldown). The offense had four touchdowns (Justice Hill 12-yard rush, Dillon Stoner 76-yard catch, L.D. Brown 1-yard rush) and two Matt Ammendola field goals (43 yards, 36 yards).
The Oklahoma State defense did a great job shutting KU down in the first half. Five of the first six Jayhawk drives ended in a 3-and-out, and Kansas punted five times in the first half. The Jayhawks did manage 10 points in the first half, with the touchdown coming on a 33-yard catch and run by Evan Fairs seven seconds before the half ended to cut the lead to 34-10.
It was more of what the doctor ordered for the Cowboys in the second half. Kansas received the second half kickoff, but senior Chad Whitener stepped up and intercepted Peyton Bender on the third play of the half.
Mason Rudolph only needed one play to continue the onslaught. He found his favorite receiver - fellow senior James Washington - for a 30-yard #Rudolph2Washington score.
The Cowboys scored 17 more second-half points thanks to another QB keeper, a 49-yard field goal and an L.D. Brown 1-yard punch in, thanks to a 56-yard bomb that Tyrell Alexander hauled in from the arm of Taylor Cornelius.
Clearly the highlight of the day was all the seniors being subbed out for the final time in the fourth quarter. Gundy subbed them out like a coach would in college basketball, giving the fans time to show their appreciation one last time before turning it over to the “new guys”. Gundy talked about the move after the game.
“I would like to say it was my idea, but it wasn't. It was suggested to me. I've always been a little leery of it. I don't want to be disrespectful of Coach Beaty at Kansas. I should have done it earlier and when you have that luxury I just think it's right for what the players go through in their four years, and I just think we owe that to them.”
He also mentioned the 56-yard pass wasn’t in the plan.
“In the end when Taylor (Cornelius) comes in, we run our offense and they give us a certain look where he's trained to take an out-and-up call, and he signals and we hit it. I didn't feel good about it, but he's out there playing. You gotta let him go. We tried to do the best we could to let them play, and we had another number of walk-ons that were able to get in the game, stop the game, bring them out and let those other young men play. They're very important to the organization."
As I mentioned, Rudolph was outstanding today. He completed 32-of-44 passes for 494 yards and two touchdowns through the air to pair with his two touchdowns on the ground.
James Washington had eight receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. Washington only needs 69 yards in the bowl game to become the all-time leader in receiving yards at Oklahoma State.
Marcell Ateman had four receptions for 107 yards. With the big day, Ateman went over 1,000 yards on the season, which gave Oklahoma State a prestigious honor.
With the win, the Cowboys move to 9-3 overall and 6-3 in Big 12 play. Up next, Oklahoma State will travel to its 12th straight bowl game. As to which bowl, it has not been decided yet. Stay with us here as we will spread the news along when it comes out.