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Beyond the Box Score: A Series Of Unfortunate Events

A quarter-by-quarter look at the details which lead to defeat.

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

Expectations were high and confidence was overflowing; I’m not judging, I was arm-in-arm. Fans can look at the box score and come to a quick conclusion as to why Oklahoma State lost to TCU. The Frogs led time of possession 39:04 – 20:56 and won the turnover battle 4-to-1…ballgame. Hats off to TCU for a great game plan and making the plays that resulted in victory.

Yet, despite those glaring setbacks, the Cowboys only trailed 37-31 with 3:03 to play. Sometimes it’s not what happens; it’s also when and where and why, creating a series of unfortunate events.


The signs of an upset were written on the wall, and injury report, as Cowboy fans received confirmation that three offensive starters were ruled out for TCU: Larry Williams, Zach Crabtree and Chris Lacy.

1st Quarter

10:55 – After driving the length of the field in hurry-up fashion, Kenny Hill threw a gift to the defense in the form of an underthrown fade route. The interception attempt was just that, an attempt, and TCU came away with a field goal to end the drive.

First Offensive Series - Oklahoma State trots out an explosive passing attack to answer TCU’s opening drive, only to run the ball 5 consecutive times, passing once, followed by a punt.

6:55 – TCU tries another gift delivery method, a fumble, but the Pokes couldn’t gain possession.

5:38 - Raise your hand if you’ve seen this call before…I’ll wait.

If there’s an obscure rule that would take a combination of a rare event and uneducated officials to get wrong, those two stars will align in the confines of Boone Pickens Stadium.

4:30 – Facing 3rd & 15 at the OSU 35, we see Glenn Spencer’s game plan which has become increasingly frustrating to watch year after year. A linebacker built to stop the run matched up on a quick slot receiver; result, 16 yards and a first down allowing the Frogs deeper into Cowboy territory on a drive that resulted in another field goal.

2:45 – The offense needs points; the defense needs a break. OSU’s offense has only possessed the ball for 2:21 of the 1st quarter and could use a time consuming drive to take the lead. Result: 2 plays, 90 yards, 30 seconds, touchdown. Get back out there and get a stop D!

The Consequences – A 7-play, 75-yard touchdown drive from TCU. How did it happen? With 1:05 on the clock, DeQuinton Osborne is flagged for a personal foul hit on Kenny Hill. Defensive lineman on quarterback, happens all the time right? This one was a bit different. The defense actually executed a well-timed blitz and Calvin Bundage had a clear path to Hill. As the play begins, crowd as loud as it has been all day, Bundage blitzes and whistles blow as he approaches the quarterback. Apparently defensive coaches didn’t like the coverage matchup and Gundy was requesting a timeout as the play began. Meanwhile, defensive tackle DeQuinton Osborne is engaged with an offensive lineman and fighting with everything he has to get to the quarterback. He sees Bundage run by Hill, doesn’t hear whistles because of the adrenaline and the crowd noise, and proceeds to give Hill a chest bump, not even close to knocking him on the ground. Rather than understanding the chaos of the situation and warning Osborne, an immediate flag is thrown.

This scenario aside, the Cowboy D would get another chance to get off of the field at the 33-second mark. TCU faced 3rd & 11 from their own 45 and converted a screen pass for 13 yards and a first down to end the 1st quarter.

2nd Quarter

12:04 – OSU has the ball at TCU’s 35. Justice Hill threatens to break free up the seam...

At best this play results in a touchdown, at worst the call on 1st and 10 from the 20 is probably different than 2nd and 10 on the 35.

Next play – Rudolph loses awareness of a defensive lineman which he successfully evaded and is sacked from behind resulting in a fumble and a turnover.

11:15 – Spencer decides to fire up the pressure again, blitzing 7 defenders. No one gets pressure on the quarterback and the Cowboys are flagged for defensive holding.

9:11 – TCU ball, 3rd & 5 at the OSU 37. Ramon Richards is lined up 10 yards off of the line of scrimmage vs. KaVontae Turpin at the bottom of the screen. Turpin can get where he wants to go in a very quick manner. With so much separation, and a poorly executed play on the ball by Richards, Turpin easily turns the play into a 15-yard gain. Three plays later, touchdown TCU.

5:35 – OSU gambles and converts on 4th & 3 at the TCU 26, only comes away with a field goal.

3:20 – Fresh off of an interception, down 20-10, the offense has a chance to regain momentum going into halftime. The first call is a run to the right, yes, the side of the line that is missing two starters, for a loss of 4 yards. Two incomplete passes later the Pokes are punting after running off a whopping 26 seconds of time off the clock.

Penalties entering halftime: OSU – 6/74, TCU 0/0

So by all accounts above, a horrendous first half and you’re only down by 10. With an offense as capable as Oklahoma State’s that lead can be overcome quickly. Do what you do best, throw the ball!

3rd Quarter

14:20 – Not only does our right tackle get beat, our right tackle assists in sacking Rudolph.

14:00 – Yurcich decides to get sneaky, a screen pass on 3rd and 17, hey TCU has executed it all day! Result: Interception.

13:01 – I’m sure I missed a few opportunities to point this out but here it is once again… 3rd & 4 at the OSU 20, a slot receiver matched up with our linebacker runs a 5 yard out and converts for a 1st down. This drive ends with a TCU touchdown.

6:20 – TCU ball, 3rd & 6 at their own 42. A weak, ineffective blitz is sent by Spencer, a gain of 43 for Frogs.

4:34 – Still marching to score, TCU faces 2nd & 1 at the OSU 1. Sewo Olonilua stretches for the goal line but comes up just shy, literally by a few blades of turf, and fumbles with OSU recovering the ball for a touchback. Despite the quick signal by the referee, who was apparently 100% certain the ball broke the plane, we have instant replay for a reason, to correct botched calls. At no point did the ball clearly cross the goal line, just ask Brian Griese or Steve Levy, but wait for it…touchdown TCU, now leading 34-17.

4:30 – The Cowboys respond with some firepower as Rudolph hits Jalen McCleskey for 21 yards and a 1st down to the OSU 46. As the offense hurries to the line, maybe this is the time for play-action because we’ve been running up the middle on hurry-up first down plays all day…nope! Justice Hill up the middle for 2 yards, followed by poor pocket-presence by Rudolph allowing a sack and loss of 8, followed by a called draw up the middle on 3rd & 16. I guess that was safer than calling a screen pass and getting it intercepted.

2:44 – So Sinor is punting from the OSU 43, if nothing else the Cowboys should have a chance to pin TCU deep. A well executed punt was for nothing as the entire coverage team focused on the return man who was baiting them away from the end zone, resulting in all of them watching the football slowly trickle into the end zone rather than someone downing it at the 1.

1:30 – Still plenty of time for a comeback down 17, but the breaks will have to start falling the way of the home team. TCU faces a 3rd & 11 here and executes a run up the middle for 15 yards and a first down.

:10 – Now in OSU territory, Kenny Hill fumbles, but, as it has all day, the ball bounces TCU’s way.

4th Quarter

14:26 – TCU earns their first penalty of the day, this one for offensive holding, but they turn around and execute an 18-yard pass play on 2nd and 17. OSU’s defense would hold to only allow a field goal, 37-17 Frogs lead with 12:03 to play.

6:16 – Now down 13 there is no room for error and the Cowboys are threatening to score again from the TCU 23. In the bonehead call of the year, you take the ball out of your Heisman-contender’s hands and ask a wide receiver to execute a trick play and complete the double pass. Result: Interception at the TCU 5.

4:18 – The game should be over at this point but TCU runs only 90 seconds off the clock, the OSU defense forces a 3-and-out and the offense takes over at the TCU 47. Two Rudolph passes later the Cowboys are at the TCU 3; wow what a novel idea this is to throw the ball with your highly-regarded quarterback. Two plays later, touchdown Pokes, and now it’s 37-31.

The Ensuing Kickoff – You’ve spent most of the day pooching kickoffs to an up-back or drilling them deep into the end zone, so naturally, you kick the ball to their dangerous return-man here. Turpin returns the ball 42 yards to the OSU 48, Darius Anderson breaks away for a 42-yard touchdown on 3rd and 4, and the rest is history. 44-31 Frogs.

When a team and fans have such high expectations for the season, a loss like this is never taken well. Chances are you feel even worse about it after breaking it down with me here. The great news is that the loss comes early enough in the year that it gives the Cowboys a chance to work their way back into the CFP picture. Right now it doesn’t come down to Bedlam, West Virginia or a conference championship; it comes down to winning at Texas Tech. Go Pokes!